Grilled Branzino with Walnut Parsley Pesto Dressing

Submitted by Liz Novak on Sun, 07/17/2016 - 12:35


This crispy white fish is stuffed with lemon and drizzled with a light walnut parsley pesto. If you can’t get branzino, you can use lake trout.

I love serving fish whole and slowly pulling the fish from the bones to eat it. Branzino sounds fancy, but it’s pretty communal when you’re pulling meat off with your fingers. I was excited to see the branzino at Whole Foods this week; it’s been popping up on cooking shows and menus everywhere! I have to admit it was a bit sweeter than lake trout, but trout would be a legitimate substitute.

The real glory of the dish is the walnut parsley pesto. The light dressing pairs well with the crispy grilled skin on the fish, and brings out earthy flavors on the sweet and salty white fish.

Use the leftover dressing on pasta!

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 branzino, whole, gutted, and scaled
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 anchovies

Put the walnuts, parsley, lemon juice, anchovies, and olive oil in a food processor and blend until smooth. Set this aside in a condiment bottle, small bowl, or jar.

I recommend using a grill basket; the fish is very delicate. If you’re using one, wipe the basket with olive oil. If you’re going to go directly on the grill, wipe the grill bars lightly with oil.

Stuff the fish with the lemon and garlic slices. Grill on medium high for 6-8 minutes on one side. Then pull the basket off the grill, and use a plate to flip the fish over and slide them back into the basket to grill the other side. If you’re just using the grill, use a large spatula to delicately roll the fish over. The trick here is patience. Don’t mess with the fish until it is ready to be flipped or you’ll peel off pieces of the skin in the process.

Serve with the pesto sauce.

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