Oven-Roasted Atlantic Butterfish with Fennel and Tomato

Roast these dainty, sustainable fish for an easy, sheet-pan supper.

Oven-roasted Atlantic butterfish with fennel and tomato
Cute, tasty, sustainable. Maura McEvoy

Sustainable, a snap to clean, and strangely adorable (that underbite is kind of every­thing), itty-bitty Atlantic butterfish ($6.50 per pound; ­fultonfish­market.com) are tastiest in fall, once the species—Peprilus triacanthus—has had a chance to put on a few ounces. Cook this mild-­flavored bycatch of Rhode Island’s booming squid industry the way James Mitchell, the chef at Newport’s Midtown Oyster Bar, does: roasted in a hot oven, over a bed of ­tomatoes, fennel, and thyme.

Equipment

Oven-Roasted Atlantic Butterfish with Fennel and Tomato
A common bycatch from Rhode Island's squid industry, Atlantic butterfish is easy to cook, sustainable, and delicious when cooked with Mediterranean flavors like fennel, tomato, and vermouth.
Yield: serves 4
Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 14 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cored and sliced ½ inch thick
  • 6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)
  • 12 cup plus 2 Tbsp. robust extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 whole Atlantic butterfish (1½ lb.), gutted, fins removed
  • 14 cup dry vermouth
  • 2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped Italian parsley
  • Crusty Italian bread, for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven (with a rack positioned in the center) to 500°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes, fennel, and garlic with ½ cup olive oil. Transfer the tomato mixture to the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Rinse the fish inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over the fish, then place a generous pinch of the seasoning into each cavity. Arrange the fish atop the tomato mixture, and sprinkle with the remaining seasoning. Cook until the vegetables are soft, 18-20 minutes. Pour the vermouth over the fish, then cook 10 minutes more. Garnish with parsley, and serve with crusty bread for ­sopping up the juices.
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