Red mul­let, rocket and basil pesto, with aubergine and po­lenta

SERVES 4-6

Food and Travel (UK) - - Contents -

Pull any bones from the fil­lets – a pair of tweez­ers are a very use­ful ad­di­tion to your kitchen tool kit.

1 long, nar­row aubergine, thinly sliced

3tbsp ex­tra vir­gin olive oil 3 large or 6 small red mul­let, fil­leted (re­serve the bones and freeze for fish stock, see recipe, left)

pul biber (chilli flakes), to

serve

For the basil pesto

25g fresh basil leaves

4tbsp lightly toasted pine nuts 125ml ex­tra vir­gin olive oil, plus ex­tra to cover

30g parme­san, freshly grated

For the po­lenta

90g in­stant po­lenta

3tbsp ex­tra vir­gin olive oil 40g parme­san, freshly grated

To make the basil pesto, put the leaves and pine nuts in a blender and purée. Add the olive oil, about a third at a time, and blend. Finely blend in the parme­san to make a tex­tured paste. Put in a bowl with a slick of the ex­tra oil on top, which will main­tain the bright-green colour. This can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Ar­range the sliced aubergine in a sin­gle layer on a large, foillined bak­ing tray and spoon over 2tbsp of the vir­gin olive oil.

Sea­son the flesh side of the fish and place skin side up on a foil-lined bak­ing tray. Sea­son with sea salt and freshly ground black pep­per, spoon over the rest of the oil, coat­ing evenly.

Pre­heat the grill to high and place the tray of aubergine slices on a shelf about 15cm from the heat el­e­ment. Grill for 2-3 min­utes per side un­til crisp and golden (keep a close eye on them so they don’t blacken). Now grill the fish for 4 min­utes on the one side only.

Mean­while, just be­fore serv­ing (as you want a soft tex­ture for the po­lenta), pour 750ml boiled wa­ter from the ket­tle into a large pan and re­turn to the boil. Add 1tsp sea salt crys­tals and rain in the po­lenta in a steady stream to avoid lumps from form­ing. Whisk while you do this to stop it from boil­ing over and con­tinue whisk­ing for just 5 min­utes un­til the mix­ture thick­ens. Whisk in the oil fol­lowed by the parme­san.

To serve, di­vide the po­lenta be­tween 4 or 6 plates while still soft and wet. Top with 2 or 3 pieces of the grilled mul­let and crispy aubergine slices. Spoon over some basil pesto and add a dust­ing of pul biber chilli flakes for the per­fect fin­ish.

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