The most important thing to remember with this recipe is to buy good-quality fish from your local fishmonger or grocery store. The recipe I’ve given you here can be used with all sorts of dishes – I’ve shown you how to tweak it to go with fish, but you can try using it with anything from pasta to grilled chicken. If you want to save some time, double the quantities and freeze half of the sauce (it will keep for a couple of months), or pop it in the fridge for up to a week.


  • Any white fish will work well in this dish – find a fishmonger or grocery store you can rely on for the freshest fish and ask for their recommendation – they’ll be able to tell you what’s best to buy on the day.
  • People tend to overcook fish – gentle baking in tomato sauce will give you moist, flavorful fish every time.
  • Small bones can be removed from fillets before cooking with a sturdy pair of tweezers, or you can ask your fishmonger to do this for you. Add 2 teaspoons capers along with the olives to mix things up a bit and give the fish even more flavor.


To make your sauce

  •  Peel and finely slice the garlic cloves. Pick the basil leaves and put aside, finely slice the stalks.
  • Add a lug of olive oil to a large pan on medium heat. Add the garlic and basil stalks. Pierce the chile once with a knife so it doesn’t explode when frying, and add to the pan. Fry gently until the garlic is soft but not colored, stirring occasionally.
  •  Add the can of tomato and season lightly with the salt and pepper. Gently simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Remove the chile. Break and mush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Add a tiny swig of red wine vinegar to give it a little twang.

To prepare and cook your fish

  •  Preheat the oven to 425F.
  •  Pour your tomato sauce into a baking dish (about 8 x 11 inches). Place the fillets on top of the sauce. Squash the olives, using the base of a jar or something heavy, remove the pits and sprinkle the olives over the fish along with the reserved basil.
  • Bake for around 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through (check by cutting into the thickest part of one or two of the fillets, they should be pearly white and not transparent). Lovely served with new potatoes and a green salad.


Serving suggestions: This is a versatile dish – it’s delicious with Spinach with lemon and garlic, Lemony green beans, simple new potatoes and a salad, or for a bit of a treat some Potato wedges.

Tips from the dietitian: It’s never too late to start eating more fish and reaping its health benefits – white fish is a lean protein, low in fat and calories so it’s an excellent choice. Fish has a lovely, delicate flavor so doesn’t need to be coated in fat or soaked in calorie-laden sauces to taste good – keep it fresh and simple! For the salt conscious, buy olives in oil not brine and look for tomatoes that say low-sodium, or ‘no salt added’ on the label.

Food safety: If you’re preparing raw meat, chicken or fish on a chopping board, wash the board, the knife and your hands thoroughly afterwards so that the bacteria doesn’t spread onto food that is cooked or ready to eat. Some restaurants have different colored chopping boards for raw and cooked foods, or for meat, fish and vegetables, to minimize the chances of this happening. They’re easy to find at home and kitchen stores so you might like to try this in your kitchen.

hServes 4

3 cloves of garlic
A small bunch of fresh basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 jalapeno or Serrano chile
28-ounce can diced tomato
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

4x5-ounce white fish filets such as coley,cod or sea bass, skin off and bones removed

¼ cup black olives


Cutting board
Measuring spoons
Can opener
Large pan
Wooden spoon
8x11 baking dish