Roasted Whole Branzino with Escarole Salad

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 25 min
  • Active: 25 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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One 2-pound whole branzino

3 cloves garlic, sliced 

Olive oil, for drizzling 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

3 lemons, sliced 

1 bunch thyme 

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped 


One 15.5-ounce can white beans

1/3 cup plus 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (see Cook's Note)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Dash freshly ground black pepper (just a sprinkle)

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

2 heads escarole

1/3 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus shreds for garnish (see Cook's Note)

1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

4 fresh white anchovies, drained


  1. For the branzino: Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Cut slits into the branzino skin 1 inch apart, being careful not to cut through the spine. Stuff each slit with the garlic then drizzle the fish with oil. Season heavily with salt and pepper. Stuff the fish cavity with the lemon slices and the thyme sprigs. Transfer the fish to the wire rack and roast in the oven until the flesh is flaky and cooked through, about 14 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the salad: Drain the beans and combine them in a bowl with the 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, salt, a dash black pepper, and the rosemary. Set the mixture aside to marinate.
  4. Remove and discard the green leaves from the outside of the heads of escarole. Chop the hearts into 1/4-inch pieces.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the escarole, the 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, the 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, and the vinegar. Toss it all together. Escarole is a hearty green and it will absorb the oil without turning into a wilted mess.
  6. Sprinkle the beans on top and around the sides of the bowl. Garnish the salad with several shreds of Parmigiano-Reggiano and top with the anchovies.
  7. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs from the branzino. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with the salad.

Cook’s Note

Any inexpensive olive oil will work for cooking. Once it's heated, it will lose much of its flavor and nutrients. I like to use a higher-quality, more flavorful oil to finish a dish like this salad. I prefer to buy a block of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and shave it with a potato peeler. It's more cost-effective, and the freshly shaved cheese is more flavorful.

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