To get a crisp brown skin without overcooking the fish, Steven Chiappetti quickly sautés the snappers before roasting.Plus: Ultimate Holiday GuidePlus: More Seafood Recipes and Tips
Preheat the oven to 400°. Toast the pine nuts in a pie pan for about 4 minutes, or until lightly browned. Rub the bell peppers with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Roast for about 15 minutes, or until they are blistered and soft. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins, stems and seeds. Cut the peppers into 1/2-inch strips and place in a bowl along with any juices. Add the pine nuts, basil and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the fennel and garlic, cover partially and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is tender, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and crushed red pepper and simmer until thickened, about 8-minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Increase the oven temperature to 500°. Heat 2 large ovenproof skillets over moderately high heat. Season the fish inside and out with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to each skillet. When the oil is smoking, add a snapper to each skillet. Shake the skillets and cook the fish over moderately high heat until the skin is browned and crisp on the bottom, about 6 minutes. Using a metal spatula, turn the fish and cook for 1 minute. Transfer the skillets to the oven and roast the fish for about 12 minutes, or until crisp on the bottom and just cooked through. Serve the fish with the roasted peppers and tomato compote on the side.
The roasted peppers and tomato compote can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.
Pair with a full-bodied Chardonnay from the Chassagne-Montrachet region, which is rich enough to handle the robust peppers and elegant enough to balance the fine texture of the fish.