Hake and Pesto

There’s a mini basil field flourishing in an old wooden wine box planted up in the sun-trap that is my front garden. I’ve just picked enough to make a decent quantity of pesto without making a dent on its profusion and it’s a good treat to have in the fridge. Last night we had a dollop over simply cooked hake fillets resting over green beans surrounded by a few pitted black olives and cherry tomatoes cooked with the fish. It was a deliciously simple and elegant meal, leaving just enough room for biscuits and cheese and a handful of cherries. Yum. Do try it.

Serves 2
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 15 min

2 thick fillets hake, cod, haddock or pollack
1 tbsp olive oil
½ lemon
handful green beans
12 black pitted olives (Crespo)

For the pesto:
2 tbsp toasted pine kernels
2 garlic cloves
50g basil
3 tbsp finely grated Parmesan
best olive oil

First make the pesto. Put pine kernels, peeled and lightly chopped garlic, basil, 1 tbsp olive oil and generous seasoning salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Blitz, scraping the inside of the bowl as necessary, adding sufficient olive oil – 6 or 7 tbsp – in a trickle as the machine runs, to make a thick, creamy sauce. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Chill until required. Heat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Check over the fish for bones and remove with tweezers. Smear the fillets with olive oil and place in a small oven tin. Squeeze over the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Trickle the tomatoes around the fish and pierce each one with a small sharp knife to avoid bursting. Roast for 10 minutes, check the fish for doneness with a sharp knife and rest while you finalize the dish. Cook the beans in plenty of salted boiling water. Halve the olives round their middles To serve, place beans in the middle of 2 warmed plates, quickly invert a fish fillet over the top and ease off the soft skin with knife and fork. Divide equal share of tomatoes and olives around the fish and pour over any juices in the pan and final flourish of best olive oil. That’s it folks.