Rachel Allen was brought up in Dublin and left home at eighteen to study at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. Rachel is now a busy ...
vegetable oil, for oiling (optional)
250 g fresh white breadcrumbs
3 tblsp finely chopped herbs (such as tarragon, basil, mint or parsley)
150 g pine nuts, toasted
finely grated zest of 1 ½ lemons
good pinch of salt
75 g butter
8 round white fish fillets (about 150 g each), skin removed
for the salsa verde:
3 handfuls of parsley leaves
2 lemons (juice and grated zest)
6 cloves of garlic (peeled and crushed)
3 tblsp capers (drained and rinsed)
150 ml olive oil
salt and ground black pepper
Pine nuts are such a versatile ingredient, they can add texture and depth to anything from couscous or salads to pestos and even tarts. Here they're added to a crust that provides a gorgeous flavour and a pleasing crunchy contrast to the soft fish, but it also protects the fish's delicate flesh from the oven's direct heat, ensuring it doesn't overcook or dry out. Salsa verde keeps in the fridge for weeks if stored in an airtight container.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), Gas mark 6. Oil a baking tray with vegetable oil or line with baking parchment.
Place the breadcrumbs in a food processor, along with the herbs, pine nuts, lemon zest and salt, and whiz together for a minute or two to combine. Melt the butter in a saucepan on a medium heat, then add the breadcrumb mixture and stir well to combine - it should be quite moist, but if it isn't, then add some more butter.
Next place each portion of fish skinned side down on the prepared baking tray and cover with the breadcrumb mixture. Place in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the breadcrumb topping is crisp and golden and the fish is opaque all the way through.
While the fish is cooking, make the salsa verde. Place the parsley, lemon zest, garlic and capers in a food processor (having first cleaned the bowl) and whiz until finely chopped. Mix in the lemon juice and olive oil, adding more oil if you want it to be a bit more runny, and season to taste with salt and pepper (it might not need salt, as capers can be quite salty).
Remove the cooked fish from the oven and serve warm with some salsa verde on the side.