Baked fish with olives and an easy tomato sauce

With a  few pantry staples you can produce a versatile and ever so easy rich tomato sauce.

How many times have you asked what would you like for dinner tonight and gotten the response whatever/ I don’t care/ whatever you cook is good / that’s your department not mine…..

Hand on heart, I don’t think I’ve ever had one suggestion back.

Well not a serious one – I don’t consider ‘that duck recipe in Tetsuya’s cookbook you keep promising me‘ to be a serious contender for dinner tonight.

And for the record, I don’t keep promising, Rich just lives in hope.

So can you imagine my shock the other night when not only did Rich suggest something, but he was very specific about it too.

How about white fish with tomatoes, black olives and a herb. Not rosemary that doesn’t really go. Maybe thyme. Yes thyme’.

Really? White fish?! Not steak or a burger?

After picking myself and my jaw off the floor and confirming that aliens hadn’t invaded my husbands body and that he was indeed of sound mind, I sent a little curse Masterchef’s way – don’t you think it’s turned every armchair chef into a food critic?

A quick google of ‘fish, tomato, olive’ brought up a Jamie Oliver recipe but you’ll have seen versions of this before.

Perhaps like me you thought it was too simple to taste very special – if you remember, I had reservations with the recipe for a simple Tuscan pork ragu and that one proved to be a game changer.

So, despite a half kilo of vine tomatoes killing time in the fridge and my hands itching to saute half an onion I decided to follow the recipe.

Result? The snob sceptic in me was very pleasantly surprised.

A few pantry staples, a nice piece of fish and less than 15 minutes prep  – who can argue with that?

Thirty minutes cooking on the stove top produces a lovely rich sauce with just a hint of heat from the pricked chilli – you could stop here and add it to pasta as it is, or the sauce would work well with grilled, roasted or crumbed chicken and pork too.

The only thing I did do differently was throwing the olives, capers and basil into the sauce because basil shrivels and dries up if you put it on top of anything in the oven I find.

5.0 from 3 reviews

Baked fish with olives & an easy tomato sauce

Prep time

Cook time

Total time

A few pantry staples produces a versatile sauce and a quick mid week dinner.


  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled & thinly sliced
  • large handful basil leaves and stalks
  • olive oil
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • 1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ tsp vinegar {apple cider or red wine vinegar}
  • 2 x 150g white fish fillets
  • handful black olive, stone in
  • 1 tbsp capers


For the sauce

  1. Pick the basil leaves and put aside, finely slice the stalks.
  2. Add a couple of glugs of olive oil to a wide saucepan over a medium heat and add the garlic and basil stalks. Pierce the chilli with a knife {so it doesn’t explode!} and add to the pan, stirring occasionally until the garlic is soft but not coloured – approx 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the tin of tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and leave to simmer gently on a low heat for about 30 minutes – keep an eye on it so it doesn’t dry out and catch on the bottom.
  4. Remove the chilli and break the tomatoes down further with a spoon. Taste and add a little vinegar for a slight tang – I only needed ¼ tsp so be careful not to over do it.

For the fish

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Pour the tomato sauce into a smaller dish or saucepan.
  3. Squash the olives, removing the stone and tear in half. Stir into the sauce along with capers and basil leaves.
  4. Place fish on top of sauce, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Cook in oven for 15 minutes until fish is cooked through.
  5. Served with buttered new potatoes and a salad.


When you ask the ‘what would you like for dinner?’ question do you ever get a sensible suggestion?! Do you have an armchair Masterchef in your house too?

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