When you not only want but NEED and insanely easy something to make for a quick weeknight dinner or an impressive weekend dinner for friends, this lovely baked fish with tomatoes and olives is what you should make.
Everything is roasted on a single baking sheet, making for little fuss before dinner and almost no mess to clean up afterward. And it’s not only healthy and delicious but endlessly variable, accommodating just about any combination of ingredients you crave or just happen to have on hand. (Check out the Variations beneath the recipe.)
The title of the cookbook where we found this recipe is Small Victories, and indeed, this recipe is a small victory for dinner hour everywhere.
Baked Fish with Tomatoes and Olives
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes, left whole if small and halved if large
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Four (6-ounce) flounder or other flat fish fillets
- 1/2 cup pitted black olives
- A small handful chopped fresh Italian parsley, chives, and/or basil
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Scatter the shallot, garlic, and tomatoes on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Use your hands to mix everything together.
- Roast the mixture until the tomatoes start to wrinkle and give off some of their juices and the juices are bubbling, about 20 minutes. If you’re making this with not-great tomatoes (i.e., it’s January and not July), you may want to roast the tomatoes for another 10 to 15 minutes to really concentrate and intensify the flavors when tomatoes are out-of-season or otherwise lackluster.
- Take the baking sheet out of the oven and give the tomato mixture a stir. Place the flounder fillets on top of the mixture in a single layer (it’s okay if they overlap a little bit). Drizzle the fish with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon salt. Scatter the olives on top of the fish and put the baking sheet back in the oven. Roast until the fish is opaque and flakes easily when poked with a fork or a paring knife, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
- Sprinkle the herbs on top of the baked fish. Serve immediately. It’s okay if the fish falls apart when you serve it. Just consider that part of the dish’s rustic beauty.
Baked Fish VariationFor a slightly Moroccan version, add a pinch of saffron threads, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, and a small handful of chopped dried apricots to the tomato mixture before roasting. Use Moroccan olives and sprinkle with mint and/or cilantro. Serve with couscous. For a Greek version, add 1 teaspoon dried oregano to the tomato mixture before roasting and use Greek olives. Sprinkle the fish with dill and/or parsley and squeeze a little lemon juice or drizzle with a little bit of red wine vinegar right before serving. For a Spanish version, add 1 teaspoon hot pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika) and a some drained, sliced, jarred Piquillo peppers to the tomato mixture before roasting. Use Spanish olives.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Thank you for this incredibly delicious, easy, and fast baked fish recipe! This is a keeper that I know I will be coming back to time and again. The complexity of flavors and the visual appeal hide the truth that this is a simple and fast recipe to make with very little prep and clean-up. Slicing my cherry tomatoes in half before roasting made them easier to eat.
I used tilapia because the store I went to was out of flounder and it was an excellent choice—the sweet, mild fish was perfect to showcase all the other flavors, and I would use tilapia again. I love recipes where the author suggests and encourages experimentation and adaptation of the original recipe. In this case, the author’s encouragement empowered me to personalize the dish as follows:
I omitted the garlic (I am sadly allergic to it) but used a bit more shallot to compensate; after baking the fish, topped with olive oil, salt, and sliced olives as directed, for exactly 13 minutes I sprinkled each fillet with a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice and generously sprinkled each filet with approximately 1/8 cup of shredded Parmesan before putting it back in the oven for 1 to 2 minutes, just long enough to let the cheese melt. Instead of buying and chopping fresh herbs to finish the dish, I took some salad bar fattoush I had bought and sprinkled a little on top of each filet before serving. It was not only lovely to look at, but the components in the fattoush (chopped parsley, finely chopped tomatoes, mint, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, salt) worked perfectly to highlight this flavorful dish.
The best way I can describe the results is to tell you that my husband—who NEVER eats fish—ate every bite and asked me to please make this recipe again soon. He loved it! I appreciated the fact that it did not take me long to get this meal on the table and clean-up was a breeze in that no bowls or other dishes were required. The author refers to “small victory” as an adjective (loved that!). Every once in a while, a recipe comes along that gives the cook a feeling of pride, accomplishment, and mastery. A “small victory,” indeed. Perhaps this masterpiece of a recipe should be titled “Small Victory Baked Fish with Tomatoes and Olives”! But no matter what it is called, I know I will be making it time and again.
This recipe is definitely a keeper. It’s a tasty, healthy dish which can be prepared in about 45 minutes. I made the basic version of this recipe but I plan to try some of the variations, especially the Spanish version. I served it with parslied potatoes which combined perfectly with the roasted tomato sauce.
This sort of recipe is wonderful for a few reasons: 1. its simplicity; 2. its healthy ingredients; 3. the addition of variations on the basic recipe. It’s tasty and simple enough to make any night of the week for a quick dinner but also elegant enough to serve at your next dinner party. Colorful in presentation, this sort of recipe really is a great recipe for experienced cooks but also those just starting to learn about the joys of cooking. (The recipe calls for flounder, but I think it would work well with trout, sole, cod or even wild salmon.)
Along with this dish I served a simple watercress salad with pistachios, shaved Parmesan, and a lemon vinaigrette as well as a glass of white wine and some bread for dipping. I was able to find flounder at my local supermarket, so that is what I used; I used pitted kalamata olives and Italian parsley. (The recipe mentions basil and chives as well, but I think fresh thyme, rosemary, or oregano would also work just fine.) The timing of 20 minutes to roast the tomatoes was right on; at this point they were exuding their juices and getting a bit wrinkly in appearance. I highly recommend using multi-colored cherry tomatoes for a lovely appearance, and I definitely recommend keeping this basic recipe, and its variations, in your favorite recipes folder! I am very interested in trying the Moroccan version next…maybe with some fresh mint and couscous as recommended.
As a lifelong Catholic who is well aware Lent starts in a month, I’ve recently been looking for easy and quick fish recipes that can conceivably be cooked on a work night. This baked fish with tomatoes and olives meets all my criteria. It’s easy, healthy, and it can be altered slightly so that diners are less likely to be bored time after time. It was a mild dish; I added a healthy portion of fresh ground black pepper to my portion. Think changing into something not work-related and relaxing a bit over a glass of wine, and ta da! Dinner is ready.
Easy and healthy is a win-win combination and this baked fish with tomatoes and olives delivers on both. One pan. What’s not to like? The high-heat roast of the tomatoes really gets the juices flowing and intensifies their flavor. Combining that with the delicate yet sturdy fish topped with briny olives makes this weeknight-doable dish super tasty. The flavor variations included are helpful too and make this recipe one we’ll come back to! This time we went with the Moroccan version, so we added saffron, cumin and chopped apricots to the mix. The apricots added a really nice sweet note to the dish and the bits of apricot that got browned were delicious. As suggested, we served it with couscous, which was a great accompaniment to have with the sauce.