Grilled Sea Bass Fillets with White Bean & Artichoke Mash, Roasted Vegetables and Pesto

This meal was built around my recent craving for lemony, garlicky, butter bean mash – the stuff is so damned delicious that despite having a rather large portion with the sea bass, I’m still wanting more.  Be warned, you may find the same thing happens 😉

Sea bass fillets and roast vegFor the roasted vegetables I’ve listed what we used this time, but you can use anything you like, in sufficient quantities for the servings you require.  Do bear in mind different cooking times – either add quicker cooking items later, or vary the size of the chunks.

For the pesto I used walnuts as none of us like pine nuts – of course you can use pine nuts instead, or even cashews.  Whatever you choose, only toast them very lightly so as to bring out the creaminess of the flavour, rather than browning them and making them extra nutty.

The entire meal’s a lot easier to prepare than would be suggested by the length of the post – promise! 🙂

Ingredients

2 sea bass fillets
A drizzle of olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the roasted vegetables
1 medium sweet potato
1 medium onion
1 courgette
1 yellow bell pepper
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
Sea salt

For the pesto:
2-3 handfuls of fresh basil leaves
½ – 1 garlic clove
A handful of very lightly toasted walnuts
50-75g fresh parmesan, grated
Several good glugs of decent quality extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the white bean and artichoke mash
1 tin butter beans (or cannellini, or haricot/navy beans, or a mix)
¼ jar artichoke hearts in oil
1 lemon – juice and finely grated zest
½ – 1 garlic clove, minced
Lots of extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Music

Ready to create a taste sensation?  Grand!

For the roast vegetables:
Preheat the oven to gas mark 7/220°C/425°F.

Put the empty baking tray for the veggies in the oven to heat up…you want it to get really hot before adding anything.

Chop your veggies into suitably sized chunks, put into a bowl along with the olive oil and, using your hands, mix well to make sure everything’s well coated.  If your vegetables have very different cooking times, it will be best to separate them into a couple of smaller bowls for the oil coating process -that way you can easily add them into the pan in stages.

Tip the coated veg chunks onto the heated baking tray, sprinkle liberally with sea salt, toss thyme sprigs on top and slam in the oven.

You can pretty much ignore them now for around 30 minutes while you get on with the other bits – just turn them over at the halfway point to make sure they brown evenly.  Of course that assumes everything’s going in at once – if you’re adding in stages, I’m afraid you’re on your own working out what to add when!

Basil

GarlicFor the pesto:
Take the basil leaves, garlic and a good pinch of salt and grind to a paste using either a mortar and pestle, or the pulse setting on a food processor.Walnuts

Olive oilAdd the lightly toasted nuts and a little olive oil and grind again.

Basil, walnut and oil pasteYou’re aiming for a paste that still has a little texture to it – don’t try to make it entirely smooth.

Parmesan added to basil paste Tip paste into a bowl, add about half of the parmesan and a slug or two of olive oil.  Stir gently to mix.  Add seasoning and taste.

PestoContinue to add in grated cheese, olive oil and seasoning until you’re happy with the taste and consistency – you’re aiming for an oozy sauce, where the ingredients are just bound together by the olive oil, but are not swimming in it.

Set to one side and try not to keep tasting it while you cook the rest of your meal.

Olive oil

Garlic

Artichokes LemonFor the bean and artichoke mash:
Put around 50ml of olive oil, the garlic, the artichokes, the lemon juice and zest into a pan –  warm gently over a low heat.

Beans and artichokesDrain and rinse the tinned beans, then add to the pan with the other ingredients.

Bean and artichoke mashContinue to cook over a low heat, stirring and squashing with a wide, flat spoon so that the beans become a rough, chunky mash.  If you’re finding it tough going with a spoon, just use a potato masher but be careful not to overdo it – you’re not aiming for purée (or maybe you are, who am I to say?)

Add more olive oil and adjust seasoning until the desired consistency and taste is achieved.

Keep mash warm while you attend to the sea bass.

Sea bass fillets and roast vegFor the sea bass fillets:
Turn the grill on to medium to high heat, and place an empty baking tray underneath to get really hot.

Using a very sharp knife, score three or four lines into the skin of the fish fillets – this will prevent it from curling up as it cooks. I got a bit excited to eat at this point, and forgot to take a picture of the uncooked fillets – hopefully you can make out the scoring marks in this picture.

Spray or drizzle a light coating of olive oil onto the heated baking tray, season with salt and black pepper.

Place the sea bass fillets, skin side up, onto the prepared tray and return to the grill for around 4 minutes, or until the flesh has turned an opaque, milky colour and the skin has crisped up nicely.  You won’t need to flip them.  Don’t over cook!

Sea bassTo serve, pile bean mash onto plate and place cooked sea bass fillet on the top.  Scatter with roasted vegetables then drizzle over the pesto.

Feel grown up, clever and a touch virtuous for having created such a delicious, nutritious, good looking dinner 🙂
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