Pan Seared Branzino and Tomatoes Stuffed with Pecorino Romano and Couscous
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 (4-ounce) branzino fillets, skins on, scales removed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- Pecorino Romano and Couscous Stuffed Tomatoes, recipe follows
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- For the Pecorino Romano and Couscous Stuffed Tomatoes:
- 8 medium size firm-ripe tomatoes
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 pound mild Romano cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup cooked couscous
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 1/4 cup currants, plumped in hot water then drained
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
Set a 12-inch saute pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Season the branzino fillets on both sides with the salt and pepper and dredge in the flour, shaking off any excess. When the oil is hot, add the branzino fillets, skin side down, to the saute pan. Gently press and cook until the skin is crisp, 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Use a fish spatula to turn the fish over and cook on the second side until just cooked through, about 45 to 60 seconds more. Remove from the pan and serve, 1 fillet per person, with 2 stuffed tomatoes each. Drizzle with the extra-virgin olive oil, garnish with the parsley and serve immediately.
Cut the tops off of the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds and some of the flesh. Season the tomatoes with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper and place cut side down onto a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain for 30 to 40 minutes.
While the tomatoes drain, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Brush an 8 by 11-inch shallow casserole dish with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the Romano cheese, couscous, pine nuts, currants, oregano, remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil, remaining 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. Use a small spoon to mix the ingredients and divide evenly between the 8 tomatoes. Lay the tomatoes in the casserole dish and place the dish in the oven. Bake the tomatoes until they are caramelized, and bubbly, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve alongside the branzino.
Yield: 4 servings