This versatile recipe for baking fish calls for snapper, but you can use any other tender, flaky fish like bass, sole, or bream. Once you get comfortable with the baking method, try using different herbs, olives, and spices like ground coriander or even a touch of cumin.
What to buy:
Pitted niçoise olives are available at specialty food stores and are worth the hunt. Unpitted will work as well—just remember to tell your guests! Serve with roasted summer squash.
I don’t recommend using aluminum baking pans, since the wine and tomatoes will react unfavorably and become bitter. Glazed ceramic, stainless steel, enameled cast iron, and Spanish cazuelas offer the best heat. Ovenproof glass will work, too.
Game plan: You can bake the fish till about 3/4 done and hold it for up to an hour before serving. Drape plastic wrap over the fish to keep it moist. To serve, remove the plastic, spoon some of the pan juices over the fish, then finish in the oven. By the time you start to hear the ingredients in the baking dish sizzle, the fish will be ready. Continue as directed. To hold the tomatoes, coat them with a little olive oil and do not season until ready to add to the fish. Adding salt too soon will pull water from the tomatoes and make the finished dish too watery.
Wine recommendation: A Ligurian white Vermentino from Lupi or Tenuta Giuncheo