Before we went to the U.S. last month, things were going pretty well in our household. The hubby and I had just completed our second Whole30 ever before we left, I was exercising regularly, and the kids were soaking up a sunny British summer. Life was on the up and up!
Then we went to the U.S. and let jet lag, Tex Mex and late nights took over. We ate whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. We slept on floor mats and foldout sofas as houseguests. We let our kids run amok in our old neighborhood. We fell off the wagon in a big way.
That’s why for dinner tonight I’m making this roasted haddock with olives and tomatoes. It’s a dish I adapted from the Mediterranean roasted whole fish I had when I traveled to Italy back in May.
Here’s the thing about roasting olives and fish — it makes perfect sense. The brininess in olives with a meaty white fish like haddock pair together really nicely, with the fish taking on the salty flavor of the olives. Throw in some really ripe tomatoes and let their juiciness burst in a hot oven, and you’ve got a ready-made sauce for the fish to simmer in.
For more freshness, I also shredded ribbons of lemon juice and chopped some flat-leaf parsley. Because the haddock filets are tightly rolled and packed into a roasting tray just big enough to fit the fish, the roasting juices from the tomatoes and olives have no choice but to permeate the fish. I served salad and rice along with my roasted haddock with olives and tomatoes, but I could easily see this dish being great accompanied with crusty baguette.
The best part about this dish is that it’s hearty enough to eat on its own, too, without any sides at all. In fact, during our Whole30 diet, I made this dish a few times and it made me less sad. (If you’ve never done a Whole30, it’s basically one month of watching other people eat fun food while you eat a lot of eggs. I’d never do it again, except that it totally works.)
As for what olives to use — the fresher, the better. I love green Nocerella olives and always keep a stockpile in our fridge for snacking, but I’ve had this roasted fish with black olives and capers, and it worked just as well. Every time I make this dish, I close my eyes and can practically hear the gentle lapping of waves up against a seashore. It’s that combination of briny goodness and sweet, plump tomatoes, I think.
Well, an active imagination and an insatiable hunger also helps.
- 6 haddock filets (about 1.5 lbs)
- 1 cup olives (I used Nocerella green olives, but any briny olives will do)
- 4 medium ripe plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon, zested into strips, plus 1 more lemon cut into wedges for garnish
- 3-4 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley, ends trimmed
- Position your oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Find a small baking dish or roasting pan that would fit the fish filets tightly and set aside.
- Rinse the filets and pat dry with paper towels. Lay each haddock fillet on a cutting board and fold the ends into the middle, then fold in half so that you have a semi-rolled up filet. Drizzle the filets with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, using your fingers to spread the olive oil onto the filets evenly. Season the filets with salt and pepper and place into the roasting dish.
- Fit the olives and tomato wedges around the fish and then garnish with lemon zest strips and the parsley sprigs.
- Put the roasting dish in the oven and roast the fish for 15-20 minutes. Watch the fish carefully after about 10 minutes, making sure that the lemon zest doesn't get too blackened (if it does, lightly tent the fish with a piece of aluminum foil and continue roasting the fish). The fish is done when it's firm to the touch and flakes easily when you press down on it.
- Remove the fish from the oven and let cool slightly. Serve with lemon wedges and more chopped parsley.