Oven Braised Snapper with Puttanesca

Oven Braised Snapper with Puttanesca

This oven braised snapper with Puttanesca is a wonderful dish for fish lovers. I have blogged about Puttanesca already, but this version is a little different and not served with pasta. I found this lovely recipe in Fine Cooking, and adapted it slightly, but the original one can be seen here. As many know, Spaghetti alla puttanesca in an iconic Italian pasta dish that originated in Naples in the mid-20th century. Puttanesca, a sauce made with tomatoes, olive oil, olives, anchovies, chili peppers, capers, and garlic is traditionally served over vermicelli or spaghetti pasta. But this lovely pasta sauce, with bold flavors, also makes a fantastic accompaniment to fish. So, if you’re a fish fan who is also mindful of the amount of carbs you consume, this simple dish is perfect for you.

Red Snapper

Red snapper is a popular fish often found on restaurants menus. The Red snapper live in waters all around the world but are commonly found in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and along the Atlantic Coast. Taste-wise, snapper is a mild, slightly sweet fish with a subtle nutty taste. Considered a light white fish, its meat is lean and moist with a firm texture, making it a versatile ingredient in recipes. And in case you’re curious, snapper is not a “fishy” fish compared to many other fish varieties, making them ideal for kids and people who prefer mild fish.

Red snapper is one of the most popular white fish in the world. The name “red snapper” is sometimes used to refer to similar, but less desirable fish, like the West Coast rockfish. But according to the FDA, the labeling or sale of any fish other than Lutjanus campechanus (red snapper’s scientific name) as “red snapper” is considered a misbranding and is in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

braised snapper with Puttanesca

How to Pick the Best Snapper

  • Find a trusted fish seller and verify you’re buying Lutjanus campechanus rather and not the cheaper, lookalike West Coast rockfish.
  • Buy fish with the skin on to help identify the correct fish – red snapper should always have red skin.
  • Clear, bright eyes are a sign of fresh fish. The backbone should also be bright in color.
  • Fillets shouldn’t be browning and if you poke the fish it should bounce back.

braised snapper with Puttanesca

The simplicity of this oven braised snapper with Puttanesca is what I love most. A flaky white fish is the perfect compliment to the tasty and vibrant sauce with pungent aromas of garlic, anchovies, capers, and olives. This is a great quick meal anytime of the year, but I love it most late summer, when you are savoring those last few days with extra hours of sunlight.

Oven Braised Snapper With Puttanesca Sauce

September 7, 2022
: 4
: 15 min
: 20 min
: 35 min
: Easy


  • 4 (5-ounce) skinless snapper fillets (about 3/4 inch thick)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (14-1/2-ounce) cans petite-diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
  • 3 Tablespoons, fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon capers
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
  • Step 1 Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Season the snapper on both sides with salt and pepper and set aside.
  • Step 2 Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, but not golden, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and their juice, anchovy paste, olives, 2 tablespoons of the basil, capers, and pepper flakes to the pan. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are tender and the juices have reduced to a saucy consistency, about 8 minutes.
  • Step 3 Nestle the snapper fillets into the sauce, spooning some of the sauce on top to keep the fish moist. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Tightly cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil, place in the oven and braise until the fish is almost cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness.
  • Step 4 Carefully remove the pan from the oven and with a slotted spatula, transfer the snapper to 4 shallow serving bowls. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of basil and vinegar into the sauce and spoon it over the fish.

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