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Roasted Branzino with Citrus Pesto

Roasted branzino filets are topped with citrus pesto and a variety of seasonal citrus slices. It’s a simple, healthy and delicious fish recipe.

This roasted branzino with citrus pesto recipe is light, bright and extremely flavorful. It's sure to be your favorite fish recipe.

When people ask the question, “could you ever live in a foreign country?” My answer is always yes. Without a doubt. I adore SoCal with all my heart, but I also love many other countries on this beautiful planet. Of course, New Zealand comes to mind (I’d be a bad kiwi if I didn’t say that), but the first country that always pops in my head, where I could lay down roots and feel 100% completely at home….Italy.

I’ve been fortunate to have traveled Italy twice, but there’s always a longing to go back. Which, is unique for my adventurous soul that always craves new and exciting experiences.

But Italy’s comfy. There’s just something about it that feels, well, like I could live there. Unique and diverse landscapes (with lots of dreamy coastline). Delicious and bountiful farmer’s markets. And friendly, welcoming people. Yep, that’s where I’d live. What about you?

This roasted branzino with citrus pesto recipe is light, bright and extremely flavorful. It's sure to be your favorite fish recipe.

This roasted branzino with citrus pesto recipe is light, bright and extremely flavorful. It's sure to be your favorite fish recipe.

This roasted branzino with citrus pesto recipe is light, bright and extremely flavorful. It's sure to be your favorite fish recipe.

Branzino is a delicious, delicate and mild white fish that goes by many names. In Italy, it’s branzino. In other parts of the world it may be better known as European seabass, Mediterranean seabass, sea dace, loup de mer, lubina, spigola or robalo. The lovely thing about branzino though is that it’s extremely versatile – it can be paired with a variety of flavors and cooked a myriad of ways (grilled, roasted, baked, poached, etc).

Cooking a whole branzino makes for a stunningly beautiful presentation on a platter – and trust me, I aspire to do that in a future recipe. But here’s the honest truth. I absolutely suck at cleaning, deboning and filleting fish. Ugh. Yep, I’m the American who’s used to having restaurants serve up perfectly clean and edible fish entrees without having to do any additional work before devouring a delicious meal. Spoiled, I know.

But after spending so much time in Lisbon, with some of the most talented fisherman who can literally prepare any type of fish in seconds, I’m making that a goal for myself this year. Fish prep 101. Just you wait and see.

This roasted branzino with citrus pesto recipe is light, bright and extremely flavorful. It's sure to be your favorite fish recipe.

This roasted branzino with citrus pesto recipe is light, bright and extremely flavorful. It's sure to be your favorite fish recipe.

This roasted branzino with citrus pesto recipe is light, bright and extremely flavorful. It's sure to be your favorite fish recipe.

Until then, I went the easy route when I saw these whole branzino at Santa Monica Seafood. I simply asked, “Can you filet those for me?” And they did. Fabulous. Which makes the rest of this recipe a breeze. I’ve also seen branzino filets in the freezer section at Whole Foods Market, so take a peek next time you’re there.

Once you’ve got your branzino, here’s what you do. Lighty oil the filets, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook them in the oven for about 12 minutes. While they’re cooking, toss a bunch of stuff into your food processor – basil, toasted pine nuts, olive oil, garlic clove and zest and juice from a lemon and orange. Give it a few pulses and set it aside.

Then, slice up your favorite in-season citrus with a mandoline or knife – I used a variety of oranges (navel, cara cara, mandarin) and a lemon. But whatever you have access to is fine.

When the branzino is cooked through, top it with some citrus pesto and fresh citrus slices. Voila. A gorgeous, healthy meal done in less than 25 minutes. Oh, and keeping with my simple theme, I just served this up for lunch with a side of baby spinach, tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

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Roasted Branzino with Citrus Pesto

This roasted branzino with citrus pesto recipe is light, bright and extremely flavorful. It's sure to be your favorite fish recipe.

This roasted branzino with citrus pesto recipe is light, bright and extremely flavorful. It's sure to be your favorite fish recipe.

Roasted Branzino with Citrus Pesto

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes

Roasted branzino filets are topped with citrus pesto and a variety of seasonal citrus slices. It's a simple, healthy and delicious branzino recipe done in less than 25 minutes. 

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Ingredients

  • 4-6 branzino filets
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Citrus Pesto

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves moderately packed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts toasted
  • 1 orange zested and juiced
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Garnish

  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 1-2 oranges sliced

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. 

  2. Place the branzino filets on a parchment lined baking tray. Lightly coat the filets in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 12 minutes, or until cooked through. 

  3. While the branzino is cooking, lightly toast the pine nuts in a pan on the stove. Add the toasted pine nuts along with the remaining citrus pesto ingredients to a food processor and pulse several times until you have a pesto. 

  4. Slice the lemon and oranges for the top garnish with a mandoline and set aside.

  5. When the branzino is cooked through, place it on a serving platter and top each filet with the citrus pesto and a few citrus slices. 

Other recipes you might like:

Grilled Fish Tacos with Citrus Carrot Slaw

Citrus Shrimp Ceviche

Salmon Asparagus Salad with Blistered Tomatoes

Thank you to KitchenAid for generously providing their food processor to me free of charge. As always, all opinions are my own. 

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10 comments on “Roasted Branzino with Citrus Pesto”

  1. My daughter and I were trying to figure out if we should go to Italy this summer and reading your post gave me such a lovely feel for it… if you don’t mind me asking, where else in Italy did you stay in?
    Also, thanks for teaching me something new today as this is my first time hearing of Branzino – this fish dish sounds wonderful – so glad I stumbled by today…

    • I’ve traveled most of Italy from the Amalfi Coast north (haven’t yet gotten to the southern parts or Sicily). The gorgeous western coastline towns are a fave (Amalfi, Positano and Cinque Terre further north). But also loved Florence, Rome, Sienna, Venice, and just driving through the Tuscan countryside. One of my trips was with my mom, so I think it makes for a great mom/daughter trip! Definitely memorable and a wonderful experience. :) x

  2. I too love Italy, especially Venice. Also love nourishing meals like this! :)

  3. In uni I studied abroad in Florence and have been dreaming of going back ever since! LOVE seabass and I can only imagine how delicate the balance of citrus, pesto and pine nuts must be! I must try to find some good seabass this weekend as this recipe is on my list now! Thanks!

  4. I love Branzino! I tried it for the first time at a local Italian restaurant last year. Your recipe looks divine!

  5. Ah, I love Branzino! Such a delicate fish and so yum! Tried a couple of authentic Italian recipes with Bronzino this summer and it’s definitely on my list to try and cook home. Love your fresh citrus pesto addition