Potatoes, fennel, lemon, garlic, olives, a mild, flaky white fish, and greens — it’s pretty much my dream dinner. Ultra-thin slices of potatoes and fennel turn tender and silky in their bath of white wine and olive oil, the fish turns out perfectly tender and sweet, and the top layer of lemon slices browns around the edges becoming crisp and fragrant — like lemon chips — too good to leave on the plate, trust me!
This is a classic, super-balanced, Mediterranean-inspired meal that I’ve made in countless iterations over the years, and it feels good to finally commit a recipe to paper…or I guess to pixels would be more accurate.
For the fish, I always start with a bed of thinly sliced potatoes and fennel, shallot or onion, and garlic. This roasts until the potatoes begin to brown around the edges, and then I add lemon slices and a seasoned filet of fish (wild hake, wild cod, and halibut are favorites), more lemon slices, and a drizzle of olive oil.
When the fish is about two-thirds done I add a nice pour of dry white wine for the latter part of roasting, which fills the kitchen with wonderful aromas and helps bring together all of those wonderful flavors. This time I also threw in a handful of kalamata olives for a touch of brininess to complement the sweet, mild fish, savory potatoes, and herbaceous fennel.
As for the accompanying greens, I tend to rotate through sautéed kale, chard, escarole, broccoli, or just a simple raw green salad. But peppery, bitter, succulent broccoli rabe is my favorite and that’s what I did this time around. I trim the bottoms and peel the stalks so the rabe is less stringy (I just started doing this recently — it really makes a difference). Then I blanch the greens in salted boiling water, drain, and finish in a skillet with olive oil, garlic and chile flakes so the rabe can absorb all of their wonderful flavors.
Trimming and blanching the broccoli rabe ahead of time, in addition to using a mandolin to thinly slice the vegetables and lemon, help to make this a weeknight-friendly meal. But I love that it’s also special enough for the weekend or for a festive gathering. Just scale up the size of your fish fillet, the amounts of vegetables, and the size of your roasting dish.