Dinner Party Fish

Barbecued Hake in Vine Leaves with a Herb and Caper Pesto

This is a perfect dish for those lovely summer evenings when you have the barbecue going. Vine leaves are the leaves of grape vines and have a subtle acidic flavour and soft texture.They are similar in to spinach with a beautiful colour and perfect “case” for the fish.  They are often used in Middle Eastern and Eastern European and are used to make dolmades. You can purchase preserved vine leaves in vinegar which work just as well as buying fresh.  Rinse them well and trim off the stems, then pat dry and spread out each leaf flat – vein side uppermost ready to be stuffed with a variety of fillings. I find the acidic flavour compliments fish beautifully.

If you haven’t got a barbecue …..or its raining! .. you can use a grill. The capers add a complimentary citrus flavour. 

A lovely accompaniment to this dish is Honey-dressed seeded greens salad

Barbecued Hake in Vine Leaves with a Herb and Caper Pesto

Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 600 g Hake skinned and cut into 4 pieces
  • 8 large vine leaves rinsed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon capers drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Put the garlic, lemon zest, capers, lemon juice, parsley and dill in a processor and whizz to make a coarse paste.
  • Rinse the vine leaves well and trim off the stems, then pat dry.
  • Lightly season fish with salt and pepper, and spread the pesto evenly over each piece. Place two vine leaves on a working surface and spread out each leaf flat – vein side uppermost. Place one piece of fish in the middle of the leaves. Fold up the bottom, then the side and finally fold down the top, ensuring that the fish is completely encased. You can secure the bundle with a toothpick if it's being stubborn!
  • Lightly brush with oil. Repeat with remaining fish pieces. Place in fridge until ready to cook.
  • Preheat grill or barbecue. Place fish packets over a medium high heat, you can use a fish or meat holder to make it easier to turn. Cook for about 4 minutes then gently turn. Continue cooking for 4 more minutes. Gently poke with a knife to check fish is cooked through. Remove from grill and serve.


Serving suggestion - Delicious served with griddled Sweet Potato and Honey-Dressed Seeded Greens Salad
Vegetarian Alternative - For a delicious vegetarian alternative, replace the fish with slices of Mozzarella or feta cheese and the capers with green olives.
Cod or haddock work well instead of the hake. 

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