Pesto-rubbed sea bass with oven-dried tomatoes and crème fraîche

James Tanner combines Mediterranean ingredients such as basil, tomatoes and garlic to create a richly flavourful and sophisticated fish dish
By James Tanner
Pesto-rubbed sea bass with oven-dried tomatoes and crème fraîche
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 2
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Effort: medium



  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • 2 sea bass, each 150g
  • sea salt
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche

For the pesto:

  • 150 g leaves basil
  • 40 g pine kernels
  • 5 g walnut halves
  • 2 clove garlic, chopped
  • black pepper
  • 70 ml olive oil

For the oven-dried tomatoes:

  • 3 plum tomatoes
  • chopped rosemary, for sprinkling
  • chopped thyme, for sprinkling
  • freshly ground salt and black pepper
  • pinch of sugar

For the saut�ed spinach:

  • 15 g butter
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • black pepper


1. First cook the oven-dried tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas 3.

2. Place the tomatoes in a bowl, pour over boiling water and set aside for 2-3 minutes. Drain, skin and de-seed the tomatoes, cutting them into quarters.

3. Place the tomatoes in a roasting tray and sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, sea salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until dried out. Set aside.

5. To make the pesto, put the basil, pine kernels, walnuts and garlic in a food processor. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add 35ml of olive oil. Blend until the mixture forms a puree. Add in the remaining olive oil and blend until well-mixed. Reserve until needed.

6. Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas 3.

7. Heat a large non-stick frying pan on the hob until hot. Add in a drizzle of olive oil.

8. Add the sea bass fillets to the pan, skin side-down, and sear for 1 minute.

9. Remove the fillets from the pan and carefully peel off the skin off each fillet.

10. Place the skins on a lightly oiled baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes until crispy. Remove and keep warm.

11. Increase the oven temperature to 180°C/gas 4.

12. Meanwhile, return the sea bass fillets to the hot frying pan, flesh side down, and sear for 1 minute.

13. Transfer the sea bass fillets to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Spread the fillets evenly with the pesto, reserving any excess.

14. Bake the fillets for 5 minutes until just firm to the touch.

15. Meanwhile, cook the spinach. Heat the butter in a heavy-based frying pan. Add in the spinach, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and fry, stirring, until just wilted.

16. Place the sautéed spinach in the centre of two serving plates. Top with the sea bass fillets and arrange the tomatoes around the spinach.

17. Place a quenelle of crème fraîche on top of each sea bass fillet and top with the crispy skin. Sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle any remaining pesto around the sea bass. Serve at once.

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