Pan Fried Sea Bass, Spicy Cannellini Beans and Fresh Basil Pesto

I took a trip to the Mediterranean this week, but only went as far as my kitchen. I am craving a holiday so much. I miss trying new foods and learning about new cultures. One of my favourite places to visit is Italy. The food there is so fresh and inviting, and its not all pizza and pasta (although I see nothing wrong with this).

I decided to try and make a dish inspired by Italy. This is not exactly an authentic dish, its just something I boshed together with what I had in my fridge. Sea bass is my favourite fish. Its so light and delicate and goes so well with so many different ingredients. I simply pan fried it with some lemon and butter and served it on a bed of cannellini beans sautéed in garlic, chilli, tomatoes and spinach.

I also made a fresh pesto to add on top and this really added a zing to the dish. Pesto from the jar is great but there is something special about making your own pesto. The basil is so fresh that the flavour bursts in your mouth. I really loved this combination and cannot recommend it enough. I used a pesto recipe from Jamie Oliver.

If you do make your own pesto, I really recommend using the best extra virgin olive oil you can afford. Using good quality ingredients makes all the difference and takes your pesto to the next level. I used an extra virgin olive oil from Belazu and it was heavenly. Check out their website they have some amazing products.

With the sea bass, I cooked it skin side down in some olive oil and a small knob of butter for 2-3 minutes until the fish was nearly cooked. I then added some salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice and flipped it over for the next minute to finish cooking through. This way the skin was crispy and the flesh was nice and soft. Delicious!

Here’s the recipe:

Serves 2


  • 2 sea bass fillets
  • 1 400g can cannellini beans
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 large handful baby spinach
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 heaped tbsp fresh pesto (recipe link above)
  • fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil to garnish


  1. Chop the onion into small dices and slice the garlic cloves and add to a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté gently for a few minutes until soft but not coloured.
  2. Then add the tin of cannellini beans including the water it came in. Season with salt, pepper and chilli flakes and simmer for a few minutes.
  3. Chop the tomatoes into large chunks and add to the pan. Once softened slightly, add the spinach and allow to wilt through.
  4. Add a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to the pan and turn the heat off.
  5. In a frying pan, add a drizzle of olive oil and a small knob of butter. Allow the pan to heat up and then add the sea bass fillets skin side down. Season the fish with salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Fry the fish for 2-3 minutes and then turn over for another minute or until the fish is cooked through.
  6. Serve the cannellini beans on a plate, top with the sea bass fillet skin side up, and add a dollop of fresh pesto on top.
  7. Garnish with extra virgin olive, basil and enjoy!

This really was a delicious healthy dish and perfect for a midweek meal. It’s also great for a dinner party as you can prepare the beans in advance. Why not give it a try and let me know your thoughts? Thanks so much for reading!

I am a food photographer and stylist based in Milton Keynes. Please check out my website to see more of my work at

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