Tuscany: Grilled Fish “Il Bellini” with Asparagus and Fennel

Grilled Fish "Il Bellini"

I love planning trips online.  You never know what adventure will pop up.  This year we found a centuries-old farmhouse, Il Bellini, recently updated on a hillside in the Chianti region of Tuscany.  Anticipating a culinary adventure, the farm’s spectacular view of olive trees from ancient chestnut-framed windows (and updated kitchen!) were the first hints that expectations would be soundly satisfied.  Forget the complimentary toiletries–a cruet of fresh olive oil harvested from olives picked on the farm graced the kitchen table.

Tuesday was market day in the medieval town of nearby Figline Valderno.  We were astounded by the outdoor stalls, groaning beneath springtime’s largess. We skipped the local trattorias–the market inspired dinner. Selecting two lovely fish, fresh fennel and asparagus, we chose a local Spalletti Chianti. We purchased baby artichokes, proscuitto and freshly baked bread for a simple antipasto.

Dining “al fresco” was a given on this beautiful evening.  We started a fire on the grill and bathed our fish with recently pressed olive oil. Stuffing the fish with lemon slices and rosemary sprigs picked nearby, we grilled the seafood with fennel and asparagus.  Canopied by an inky night littered with twinkling stars, we devoured the simple feast with gusto; tossed the fish carcass to vagabond cats, and slept like farm animals.

Recipe: Grilled Fish “Il Bellini” with Asparagus and Fennel


  • Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • Several sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1  large lemon, sliced
  • 2, 2-3# fish*, gutted, scaled and fins removed
  • 1 largel fennel bulb, cored and sliced
  • Large handful of asparagus, ends snapped


  1. Prepare gas or charcoal grill to medium heat. Make 5 parallel 3-inch long slashes on each side of the fish, slicing almost through to the bone. Brush prepared fish, including cavity, with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Stuff fish cavity with lemon slices and rosemary sprigs. Secure cavity with kitchen twine, string or toothpicks.
  2. Place fish on oiled grill grate or in grill basket. Lay the fish down on the grill with the tail facing farthest away from the heat.
  3. Grill one side 8-10 minutes. Then turn the fish to the other side and grill an additional 10 minutes. The internal temperature of the fish should be 135˚-140˚.
  4. While fish is grilling, place asparagus and fennel on grill grate. Brush with extra virgin olive oil and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt. Grill until lightly charred on all sides and serve with fish.

Time: 30 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 2 servings

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