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Recipe of the week: A sublime, Campari-inspired roasted bass

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I’ve nibbled on plenty of olives and almonds in my time, said Melissa Clark in The New York Times. But only recently did I discover the “sublime synergy” of almond-stuffed green olives. “Salty, lightly sour olive flesh, softened and enriched by the mellow, creamy nut,” is a flavor combination for the ages. Recently, I was enjoying a Campari and soda with “a bowl of said olives” and began to ponder how to extend these compelling flavors throughout a meal. Perhaps it was the Campari, but the vision that came to me turned out to be Italian-inspired.

“What I love so much about cooking with olives is that you get a major flavor payoff for very little effort.” Like anchovies or capers, olives are an easy way to spread savory accents around a dish. Unfortunately, by the time I finally went to implement my plan to roast a bass and top it with an almond-olive gremolata, “the almond-stuffed olives were long gone.” Raiding my overstocked cupboard, however, “revealed a can of salted, roasted almonds.” Likewise, “the fridge was full of near-empty olive containers with just a few specimens waiting, stoically and patiently, to be rediscovered.”

With a bit of ingenuity and imagination, I was able to create the “piquant, tangy gremolata” of which I had dreamed. Best of all, it pairs beautifully with Campari.

Recipe of the weekRoasted Striped Bass With Orange, Olive, and Almond Gremolata

1 orange4 striped bass (or other firm-fleshed white fish) fillets, about 8 ounces eachCoarse sea or kosher saltFreshly ground black pepper2 tbsp butter, softened¼ cup chopped parsley¼ cup chopped green or black olives, or a mixture3 tbsp chopped toasted almonds1 garlic clove, minced

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Zest orange. Using small, sharp knife, cut off top and bottom of orange; stand orange up on cutting board and cut off pith following curve of fruit. Chop orange into ½-inch chunks; set aside. Season fish with salt and pepper; place in roasting dish. Mash together butter and ½ tsp orange zest. Spread on fish. Roast until opaque and just cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss together orange chunks, parsley, olives, almonds, garlic, salt and pepper to taste, and ½ tsp remaining orange zest. Taste and add more salt, pepper and zest if desired. Serve on top of fish. Serves 4.

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