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.

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  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4


  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 cups watercress, thick stems discarded, plus 1 cup small watercress sprigs (from one 6-ounce bunch)
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound skinless red snapper fillet, sliced on the bias 1/8 inch thick
  • Maldon salt, for sprinkling

How to make this recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the pine nuts in a pie plate and bake for about 3 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely. In a food processor, combine the 2 cups of 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 1/4 cup of the olive oil and process until smooth. Season the pesto with kosher salt.

  2. Spread 1 tablespoon of the watercress pesto in the center of each plate. Arrange the red snapper slices over the pesto, overlapping them slightly. In a small bowl, toss the small watercress sprigs with the remaining 1 teaspoon each of lemon juice and olive oil and season with kosher salt. 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.

Contributed By Photo © Lucy Schaeffer Published March 2009

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