Roasted Black Bass with Mussels Panzanella


Panzanella is a summery Italian bread salad traditionally made with tomatoes and basil. For this seafood variation, we tossed in mussels as well.


For the Mussels Panzanella

  • 2 pounds small mussels, preferably Prince Edward Island, scrubbed well and debearded

  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns

  • 1 ½ cups fresh basil, any combination of regular, purple, or Thai, stems reserved, plus more for serving

  • 6 slices rustic Italian bread (½ inch thick)

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and drizzling

  • 2 pounds mixed tomatoes, cut into ½-inch-thick rounds

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

  • ½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Black Bass

  • 4 skin-on black bass fillets (5 ounces each)

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  1. Make the mussels panzanella: Heat a medium stockpot over medium heat. Add mussels, wine, peppercorns, and basil stems. Bring to a vigorous simmer. Cover, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer mussels to a bowl as they open. Discard any unopened mussels. Let cool. Remove from shells. Continue to cook broth until reduced by half. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve; discard solids. You will have about 3/4 cup broth.

  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brush bread with olive oil, and toast on a baking sheet until golden, about 10 minutes. Let cool. Tear into 3/4-inch chunks.

  3. Combine mussels, broth, bread, basil, olive oil, tomatoes, vinegar, zest, and red-pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand for 30 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, make the black bass: Cut 3 slashes in skins of each fillet. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over high heat for 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 2 fillets, skin sides down. Cook until flesh is browned and opaque around edges, about 3 minutes. Flip, and cook for 1 minute more. Add 1 tablespoon butter, and heat until melted and foamy. Spoon over fish continuously for 30 seconds. Repeat with remaining oil, fish, and butter. Serve over mussels panzanella. Garnish with basil, and drizzle with olive oil.

Cook's Notes

If black bass isn't available at the fish counter, substitute another firm-fleshed mild fish, such as striped bass or red snapper.

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