Roasted Sea Bass with Tomato-Fennel Confit

Sun-dried tomatoes used to be the restaurant rage. Now they’re common in home kitchens, and available in most supermarkets. Upscale restaurant chefs have replaced sun-dried tomatoes on their menus with a preparation of oven-roasted tomatoes called tomato confit.

Tomato confit is an earthy, slightly sweet, slightly acidic condiment that enhances many dishes. Preparation is simple, and although the cook time is long, there’s no stirring or watching involved. The Viking convection cook setting, with its gentle heat and air circulation, helps decrease the time in the oven by 15 minutes.

This recipe takes the basic tomato confit a step further, adding sliced fennel to the tomatoes before roasting. The medley is the perfect topping for sea bass, which has been coated in olive oil and finely chopped fennel fronds before roasting. Catfish, grouper or red snapper also pair nicely with the flavorful confit. Have fun making your own signature confit by replacing the sliced fennel with garlic cloves and stirring in torn basil leaves, pine nuts and balsamic vinegar before serving.

Prepare ready-made polenta from the produce section of your supermarket to pan-fry as a wonderful side dish.

  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, washed, dried and halved
  • 1 medium bulb fennel, thinly sliced, fronds chopped and reserved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea salt)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped, optional
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 4 6-ounce sea bass fillets
Preheat oven on convection cook to 275 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place grape tomato halves and sliced fennel bulb on sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper and fresh rosemary, if desired. Place in oven and bake 45 minutes, until tomatoes are wilted and the fennel is slightly caramelized. Remove from oven and place in a medium bowl. Stir in sherry vinegar and set aside. 

Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F on the convection cook setting. Coat sea bass fillets with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, rubbing in well. Season with salt and pepper, then coat with reserved chopped fennel fronds. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and serve, topping each portion of fish with some of the Tomato-Fennel Confit.

Makes 4 servings.