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Friends of ours, a few days back, so generously gifted us a beautiful huge sole (thanks, Gr & Van!).  After some reading, I found a recipe from Jamie Oliver for a baked sole that conveniently used many of the same ingredients I had already acquired for Eric Ripert’s Chicken Palliard with Tomatoes, Fennel and Olives the day before.  I actually don’t mind eating something two days in a row, especially if it’s a flavor combination that I find myself desperately craving again.

Much to my amused surprise, however, the two dishes were actually quite different.  Oliver’s recipe called for a couple of lemons while Ripert’s added raisins instead.  The subtle change in ingredients interestingly enough gave two completely distinct finishes despite other common ingredients: the former focused on tartness and tanginess while the latter highlighted with sweetness.

Baked Sole with Tomatoes and Olives (adapted from Jamie Oliver’s “The Nicest Tray Baked Lemon Sole”)

Ingredients (serves two):

• 1 whole sole
• 4 tomatoes, roughly chopped
• 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
• a handful of fresh oregano or basil, leaves picked (I substituted with 1 tablespoon each of dried herbs)
• 1/2 onion finely sliced
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 lemons, zested and halved
• extra virgin olive oil
• a handful of green olives, pitted and chopped
• a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F).  Place tomatoes, garlic, oregano, basil, and onion into a large mixing bowl.  Drizzle balsamic vinegar and a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the juice and zest of 1 lemon.  Combine everything thoroughly, salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the mixture into a single layer covering the bottom of a roasting pan or dish (large enough to hold the sole).  Next, rinse and dry the fish.  Using a sharp knife, cut several slits across the fish, 2.5 cm (1 inch) apart and with depth hitting the bone to allow juices to penetrate.  Place the fish on top of the bed of tomatoes.

Finally, using the same mixing bowl as before, combine chopped olives, parsley, and the juice and zest of the second lemon.  Add another drizzle of olive oil and mix to combine.  Lay the mixture evenly on top of the fish.  Make sure to pour all juices in as well.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on thickness of the fish.  Check the fish for doneness by piercing with a knife; the flesh should flake easily from the bone.  I ended up adding on another 3 minutes on top, since the sole was relatively meaty.

Our fish, in the raw, came with rough little scales intact; I have yet to acquire any fish cleaning skills and usually rely on the fishmonger to do the dirty work (“¿Es posible para limpiar el pescado?”).  Thus, after one panicked phone call to Van (“the fish has … scales!?”) and her polite consultation, I served the fish filleted, sans skin after cooking.  With a few big heaping spoonfuls of tomatoes and sauce, garnished with fresh parsley, and alongside a bed of red rice, it was lovely… again(ish).