Ferran Adria, of El Bulli fame, is probably not someone you would think to turn to for weeknight meals. But his 2011 book The Family Meal gives new meaning to both kinds: what you make at night for your family, or that meal that is hurriedly shoveled down in a restaurant. And if Carbonara and a fried fish sandwich are a good enough meal for Mr. Adria (among other weird menu combinations), then the rest of us don't have to feel so bad about the things we put together for dinner.
Though if you're not about to spend seven hours working the line, there are some healthier dishes from the book that can be made any night of the week. Here is a weeknight dinner, based on his side-main-dessert model, on the table in less than an hour, from one of the restaurant world's greatest modern day innovators.
For this baked sea bass, cooking the whole fish is easy and economical, if unusual for most of us. (Here's a guide if you've never carved whole fish before.) And the side is timely — best to take advantage of good tomatoes while you can. They don't really need anything else besides some basil and salt.
Both the side and dessert can be made while the fish is roasting, which is mostly hands off. Impressive and good for you.
Baked Sea Bass, Tomato Salad, and Mango with White Chocolate Yogurt Sauce
Total time: 50 minutes
- 2 sea bass, about 11 oz each (gutted and cleaned by your fish person)
- 2 medium potatoes
- 2 ripe tomatoes
- 1 medium onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Make three deep cuts along the body of the fish on both sides.
- Peel the potatoes and cut into slices about 1/2-inch thick. Cut the tomatoes into slices 1/4-inch thick. Thinly slice the onion. Coarsely crush the whole garlic cloves, leaving the skins on.
- Pour a little oil into a large roasting pan. Spread half the potato in the pan, then half the tomato, and half the onion. Season with salt and pepper then repeat using the rest of the vegetables. Scatter the garlic and herbs on top. Pour over the remaining olive oil.
- Cover the pan with foil, then bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Season the sea bass inside and out. Remove the foil from the pan and put the fish on top of the vegetables. Turn the oven up to 375ºF. Return the pan to the oven, uncovered, for 12 minutes, or until the fish is opaque and flakes easily from the backbone.
- Finish with a little more olive oil and a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme.
While the fish is roasting, make this side:
- 2 very large ripe tomatoes
- 30 basil leaves
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp sherry vinegar
- Use a paring knife to remove the stem and any fibrous green parts from the tops of the tomatoes. Peel the tomatoes [not necessary] and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices.
- Arrange the slices on a plate, season with salt (flakey salt if you’ve got it), and tear the basil into manageable pieces. Dress the tomatoes with the oil, scatter the basil leaves, then sprinkle with the sherry vinegar.
Mango with White Chocolate Yogurt
- 2 ounces white chocolate
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 8 toasted almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts
- 1 ripe mango
- Break the white chocolate into cubes and put into a large heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan of water to a simmer, then put the bowl of chocolate over the pan. The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Let the chocolate melt slowly, stirring regularly until smooth. [You can also do this in the microwave.]
- Put the yogurt into a large bowl. Break the nuts into coarse pieces. Gradually whisk the melted chocolate into the yogurt to make a smooth sauce. Cool at room temperature.
- Peel the mangos, then cut the flesh into 1/2-inch cubes or slices. Chill until needed.
- Transfer the mango to serving plates and spoon over the yogurt. Sprinkle with the nuts and serve.
- Adapted slightly from The Family Meal (Phaidon, 2011)