Oven-baked sea bass fillets with basil sauce

Sea bass fillet with basil sauce

When fresh basil again is available after winter pistou, basil sauce, is a classic accompaniment to simply prepared fish in the South of France. I once again admired how well homemade basil sauce, pistou fait maison, complimented oven-baked fish fillets, Provençal tomatoes, and steamed potatoes during our recent lunch in Monaco. The recipe works with other white fish fillets, in Monaco we had John Dory fish.

Pistou is a cold sauce made from fresh basil leaves, olive oil, garlic, and salt. The traditional Provençal pistou didn’t have any cheese, and it was mixed by hand with a mortar and pestle. Pistou does not contain any pine nuts, as does the Italian pesto, but some modern versions are made with Gruyère or Parmesan cheese.

Pistou is best when used immediately, but it can be kept in the fridge for 1- 2 days. It is very versatile; it can be used in soups, spread on baked fish or grilled meat, or sprinkled on cooked vegetables.

2 servings

2 sea bass fillets, about 150- 200 g each
For the pistou:
1 small bunch (about 40 leaves) basil
About 4 tbsp olive oil, the best and fruitiest
1/3 clove crushed garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
A pinch of salt
For the Provençal tomatoes:
2 ripe tomatoes
½ clove garlic, crushed
4 tsp pistou
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tsp dried breadcrumbs

Serve with new potatoes, some lemon wedges, and steamed white asparagus to celebrate spring

First prepare the pistou. Place the washed and dried basil leaves, olive oil, crushed garlic, black pepper and salt in a blender and mix until smooth. Add more olive oil, if you want a thinner sauce.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Prepare the Provençal tomatoes. Halve the tomatoes and sprinkle with some black pepper and crushed garlic. Place 1 tsp pistou on each tomato half and cover with 1 tsp breadcrumbs. Place the tomato halves on an oven-proof plate.

Wash the new potatoes and asparagus. Peel the asparagus and cut away the tough end parts. The potatoes and asparagus can be simply microwaved while the fish is baked in the oven.

Place the sea bass fillets on the oven tray. They can be wrapped in baking paper to make small parcels and baked en papillote.

Bake first the Provençal tomatoes for 5 minutes in the oven. Then place the sea bass fillets in the oven and continue baking for 10 minutes.

Divide the fish fillets, Provençal tomatoes, new potatoes and asparagus on the plates. Spread 1 tbsp pistou on the fish fillets and sprinkle a few drops of the remaining pistou on the potatoes and asparagus.


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