Ingredients for Branzino
- 2 Branzino, one pound each, scaled and gutted, heads and tails removed
- 2 sprigs oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 lemon, sliced into thin rounds
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Chopped parsley for garnish
- Lemon wedges
Ingredients for the Salad Dressing
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest (1 lemon)
- 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 to 3 lemons)
- 1 medium clove garlic, grated
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients for the Orzo Salad
- 1 large red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, diced
- ½ large seedless English cucumber, watery pulp scooped out and discarded, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
- ½ medium red onion, finely chopped (about ¾ cup)
- 1 (15.5 ounce) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
- 1 cup pitted and halved Kalamata olives
- 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 pound dried orzo
- 6 ounces brine-packed Greek feta, crumbled (optional)
Grilled Stuffed Branzino:
1. Preheat a grill pan over high heat.
2. Season the inside of the Branzino with salt and pepper. Fill each of the cavities with a sprig of oregano, 1 bay leaf, a few slices of lemon and 1 clove of garlic. Rub the outside of the Branzino with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt.
Using kitchen twine, tie the Branzino closed in 2 place to prevent the aromatics from falling out and for easier flipping on the grill pan.
3. Place the stuffed, seasoned branzino onto the hot grill pan. Grill over high heat for 6 – 7 minutes on each side. Skin should be browned and crisped. Serve immediately with chopped parsley, lemon wedges and orzo (recipe to follow).
Summer Orzo Salad:
1. To make the dressing, in a small mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, ½ cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons of salt, and pepper. Set the dressing aside.
2. To make the salad, combine the bell pepper, cucumber, onion, chickpeas, olives, walnuts, mint and parsley in a large mixing bowl.
3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Stir in the 3 tablespoons of salt and add a small splash of olive oil. Add the orzo and cook for 7 to 9 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.
Drain the orzo in a colander, then add it to the vegetable mixture while the orzo is still hot. Immediately pour the dressing onto the orzo and vegetables, and stir to combine. The hot orzo will readily absorb the dressing.
Add a splash more olive oil if the salad seems too dry. Allow the salad to cool to room temperature, and add the feta, if desired. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. Give the salad a stir, then taste and adjust seasonings before serving, if need be.