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Red Snapper Crudo with Watercress Pesto

At La Buca restaurant in Cesenatico on the Adriatic coast, Matt Molina and his crew tried slivers of raw orata, a meaty local white fish, embellished simply with agretti pesto. Since orata is harder to find in the U.S., this recipe calls for red snapper.

Red Snapper Crudo with Watercress Pesto

Contributed by Matt Molina

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

Course: Main

Skill level: Easy


  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • Watercress bunch, thick stems discarded, plus small watercress sprigs
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Salt
  • 230g of skinless red snapper fillet, sliced on the bias 1/8 inch thick
  • Maldon salt, for sprinkling


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° (180° celcius)
  2. Spread the pine nuts on a baking tray and bake for about 3 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely.
  3. In a food processor, combine the watercress with the toasted pine nuts, garlic and 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice and process to a coarse puree. With the machine on, gradually stream in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and process until smooth. Season the pesto with salt.
  4. Spread 1 tablespoon of the watercress pesto in the center of each plate. Arrange the red snapper slices over the pesto, overlapping them slightly.
  5. In a small bowl, toss the small watercress sprigs with the remaining 1 teaspoon each of lemon juice and olive oil and season with salt.
  6. Mound the watercress salad on the plates next to the snapper. Lightly drizzle the snapper with olive oil and sprinkle with Maldon salt. Serve right away.

Make Ahead

The pesto can be refrigerated overnight in an airtight container.

Suggested Pairing

For a wine match, look towards unoaked white wines made close to the coast. We’d opt for a Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi from the Marche, Italy. The crisp green fruit, fresh apple, herbaceousness and bitter almonds, would lift the fish but perfectly compliment Matt Molina’s Pesto.

A recipe from Food & Wine Magazine


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