Impulse buys are never ordinary in our house. When we go to Whole Foods to pick up an ingredient or two, inevitably the basket is full by the time we make it to the cashier. For some, those purchases would be snack foods: cookies, chips, ice cream. And we'll get those from time to time. But that's not what often makes its way into our pile. Instead, it's cheese, olives, bread and fish. Yup, we impulse buy fish. It's just so hard to pass that counter and not buy one of those beauties.
This happened on a trip to the store last week. I just went over to take a peek at their selection and saw the gentleman placing fresh branzino on top of bins of ice. I couldn't resist. Branzino is the perfect fish to prepare as a meal for two. They're not all that big, so a couple would be sufficient for dinner. Getting them ready for the oven isn't a huge production either... this can easily be done in under 45 minutes.
Baked Branzini with Brown Butter Green Beans and Sweet Potatoes
Yield Serves 2
2 whole branzini (1-1 1/2 pounds each), scaled, gutted and cleaned Olive oil Kosher salt 1 lemon, sliced 4 garlic cloves, peeled Tarragon Smoked Paprika
2 sweet potatoes, sliced 1/2" thick Olive oil Kosher salt
1 lb green beans, trimmed 3 tablespoons butter 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice Kosher salt Black pepper Almonds (optional)
1. Set the racks in the middle and bottom shelf of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking pans with aluminum foil.
2. Place the branzini on one of the prepared baking pans. Drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil over both sides of the fish and rub to coat. Season both sides, as well as the cavity, with Kosher salt and black pepper. Stuff each of the cavities of the fish with lemon slices, tarragon and two garlic cloves. Sprinkle a hearty amount of smoked paprika over the fish.
3. Transfer the sweet potato slices to a bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a couple teaspoons of salt. Put the sweet potatoes on the bottom rack and the fish on the middle rack. Cook for 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, set a large pan over medium heat. Add butter and let melt. At this point it will begin to bubble and foam. Keep an eye on the butter and watch for it to turn brown. Once it turns brown and begins to smell nutty, it is done. Add green beans and cook for another 2 minutes. Season with salt, black pepper, and lemon juice. Sprinkle almonds on top.