Food + Love: Cooking with Nina Clemente<


If your idea of an amazing New Year’s Eve is a cozy night with great friends and a spectacular meal, try this savory dish from Los Angeles chef Nina Clemente.  Serves 4-6.

Salt Baked Branzino, Italian Salsa Verde over Beluga Lentils
2 cups Beluga Lentils
5 cups Water
2 cups Cherry Tomatoes, Roughly chopped
4 Scallions, Finely sliced
2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar, Add more to taste
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper
½ bunch Fresh Cilantro, Finely chopped
1. Bring water to boil in a deep pot.
2. Add a generous sprinkle of salt.
3. Once water is boiling, turn the flame down to low and add lentils, let simmer for 15 minutes.
4. While lentils are simmering, chop 1 cup of cherry tomatoes and thinly slice 3 scallions.
5. Add to a bowl and pour in 2 Tbl of balsamic vinegar, stir and let sit at room temperature until Lentils are ready.
6. Taste lentils, they should be slightly al dente, if you like them softer let cook for 5 more minutes, although they will start to fall apart if cooked too long.
7. Drain lentils, and let cool 5 minutes.
8. Add lentils to tomato, scallion, balsamic mixute and toss with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, taste and add salt, vinegar or oil if needed.
(Leftovers can be eaten all week, delicious cold!)

2 1lb Whole Branzino, Ask vendor to gut and scale the fish
1 3lb Box of Kosher Salt
5 Egg Whites, Add more until paste is grainy
1 Lemon, Thinly sliced
1 Bunch Fresh Thyme
½ Bunch Fresh Parsley
Salsa Verde:
2 Bunches Fresh Parsley
½ Bunch Fresh Mint
4 Scallions
3 tbsp. Capers
1 Lemon , Zested
2 tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
4 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and black pepper, To taste
For Fish:
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Stir salt and 5 egg whites in a large bowl, adding more egg whites as needed to form a grainy paste.
3. Press ¼ inch layer of salt (large enough to hold both fish), onto parchment paper on a large rimmed baking sheet.
4. Rinse and dry your fish.
5. Stuff the cavity of each whole fish with the herbs and lemon slices.
6. Place fish on top of salt mixture on the baking sheet.
7. Pack remaining salt mixture over the fish to enclose completely.
8. Roast for 20 minutes (Fish should be 135 on thickest part) and salt slightly brown around the edges when done.

While fish is roasting make Salsa Verde:

For Salsa Verde:
1. Chop the parsley, mint, scallions, and capers together.
2. Add lemon zest, vinegar and olive oil.
3. Season to taste.

When the fish is ready:
1. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
2. Crack salt with a spoon, and part away from the fish.
3. Gently pull the fish out of the salt onto a flat surface.
4. The skin will peel off easily.
5. Gently tuck a spatula between the bone and the filet. Lift the filet and gently flip onlt a plate. Remove excess bones.
6. Serve immediately topped with salsa verde over lentils, and a slice of lemon.