Why is it with fish that whenever I have a particular dish in mind when shopping, the shops never have the fish I want? I really wanted a flat fish for this – lemon sole would have been my first choice, but I’d have settled for Plaice, which is what Jamie Oliver used in Happy Days with the Naked Chef, which is where this recipe is adapted from. As there was no flat fish, I chose some small fillets of pouting as they were the flattest fish I could see and they didn’t have many bones in them. I just hate removing bones, trying to grasp them between your nails and pulling only to be left with raw fish beneath your nails and the bone still in the fish. Yes, I know I could use tweezers – but that would mean going on a hunt around the flat to find them.
The filling in the middle is a variation of tapenade so you could use a jar of tapenade instead of making it, but it can easily be made while the sauce is simmering. I loved the ways the olives flavoured the sauce but my lovely husband found it a bit fishy. Unfortunately, that is a problem he seems to have with fish. Why can’t you get sea bass? He asked. Ok, next time. Or, as soon as I can find it…
Ingredients – Serves 2
4 small fish or 2 larger ones – flat fish is best but small thin white fish also work, ideally skinless and boneless
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
1 large clove of garlic, chopped
1 cup stock (or wine)
75g stoned black olives
1 tsp dried basil – but use fresh if you have it
2 handfuls of spinach
How to make Fish with Spinach, Olives and Tomatoes
1. Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan. When hot add the onion and garlic. When it softens add the stock, basil and chopped tomatoes. Turn the heat down so it simmers gently.
2. Prepare the olive paste. Put the olives and anchovies in a food processor with a little olive oil. Blend till smooth.
3. Remove the skin from the fish if it has it and any bones. Spread the fillets with the olive paste. Roll up and secure with cocktail sticks.
4. Gently place the fish into the sauce. Put the lid on the pan and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes.
5. Carefully remove the fish from the pan. Add the spinach and stir till it wilts then spoon the rest of the sauce over the fish.
6. Serve with fresh bread.