Whitefish with Burst Cherry Tomatoes is possibly the simplest summer meal on the planet ~ the jewel toned tomatoes burst their skins and create an instant sauce for the fish, with a pop of fresh flavor from the lemon and basil ~ it’s delicious and it’s ready in 15 minutes.
The cast of characters couldn’t be simpler ~ fish, tomatoes, olive oil (or butter, if you prefer,) salt, pepper, lemons, and basil. The cherry tomatoes burst under the broiler and provide just enough fresh juice to bathe the fish with their sweet/tangy flavor. You can hit it with a splash of white wine at the end if you like. There’s no heavy sauce or seasonings in this dish, but the combination of fresh fish cooked just to the flaking point, the tomato juices, and the just plucked leaves of basil is about as good as it gets.
TIP: Don’t slice the cherry tomatoes, they will naturally burst their skins as their juices heat up. The interior of the tomatoes gets super heated so be careful when you bite into them!
Most nights I get up from my computer at 5:30, and head to the treadmill for 30 minutes. I know I should do more but I get bored ever since they moved Ina and Giada from that time slot ;) So that means I start dinner at 6 pm, and my goal is 30 minutes from prep to table. The prep on this whitefish with burst cherry tomatoes might be the easiest one I’ve ever shared on the blog ~ perfect for a busy night. The variety of quick healthy meals you can make with fish is astonishing…my FISH WITH BLOOD ORANGE AND THYME is ready in minutes, and it’s gorgeous to boot. Ditto my SIMPLE GREEK STYLE BAKED FISH or SALMON WITH PINEAPPLE JALAPENO SALSA.
For this whitefish recipe you’ll need a pan that can go from stove top to broiler. I like a good heavy stainless steel skillet because it cooks the fish evenly and withstands the high heat of the broiler.
The secret to getting a good crust on the bottom of the fish that doesn’t stick to the pan?
Leave it alone! Let it sear on medium high for several minutes, until you start to see the fish starting to cook along the sides (see the above photo.) Then slide it under the broiler to finish cooking.
Literally any fish will work for this recipe, I could have bought salmon, swordfish, cod, halibut, trout, or tilapia. I bet lots of you have other local fish that would work great, I usually shop by price, and that naturally keeps us trying a variety of fish, which is a plus.
I love getting back to simple, unadorned flavors in the warmer weather!
What is purple basil?
- Purple basil is a variety developed back in the 1950s, and you can use it in the same ways you use green basil. It’s sometimes called Opal Basil.
- It has a slightly more assertive aroma and anise flavor.
- Purple basil gets its color from the same anthocyanin pigments that I talked about in my last post about BLUEBERRY LEMONADE. They’re also in raspberries, red cabbage, and red onions.
- Purple basil can be hard to find, so I recommend freezing it when you do find it. Just wash and dry the leaves, then pack them in good quality zip lock freezer bags.
- 2 fillets of whitefish, or any fish you like, about a pound to a pound and a half
- 1 pint multi-colored cherry tomatoes, rinsed
- 1 lemon, cut in small wedges
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
- a handful of fresh basil leaves, green, purple, or both!
- 1 Tbsp fresh minced dill
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- Turn the broiler on high, and set the rack on the highest setting.
- Toss the cherry tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and set aside.
- In a broiler safe skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until hot. Add the fish fillets, skin side down, and cook for about 3-5 minutes, without moving them, until you start to see them browning on the bottom, and the fish starting to cook and turn white along the sides.
- Add about half of the tomatoes to the pan, and put under the broiler for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the fish just flakes and the tomatoes are bursting.
- Note: You can do the tomatoes separately on the stove top in a skillet if you like, just toss them around for a few minutes over medium high heat until they start to burst. Then add to the fish just before serving.
- Hit the pan with a splash of white wine, if using, season with salt and pepper, and serve, garnished with lots of fresh basil leaves and dill scattered over the top.
Make it Your Own ~
- Plain red cherry tomatoes and green basil would be just as spectacular in this dish.
- Try this with shrimp or scallops.
- Instead of garnishing with basil leaves, try drizzling the fish with a thinned down PESTO SAUCE or a CHIMICHURRI SAUCE.