Wash and trim four slim spring carrots and either slice them in half lengthways or into short cork-sized lengths. Slice a head of fennel in half from stem to root, then slice each half thinly.
Cut a large courgette into rounds. Toss the carrots, courgette and fennel in four tablespoons of olive oil and transfer to a roasting tin. Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6.
Pull the leaves from three or four stems of thyme and toss them with the vegetables. Season with salt and black pepper.
Place a medium-sized sea bass on top of the vegetables, trickle with olive oil and season inside and out. Stuff a further three or four sprigs of thyme inside the fish’s belly.
Bake for 30 minutes, until the flesh will part easily from the bones. Serves 2.
It is very easy to overcook a whole fish. Start testing if it’s done after 20 minutes. Pull away a small piece of the skin, then pull at one of the larger flakes of flesh. It should slide from the bone with only the gentlest of persuasion. To serve, peel the skin away first – it should come away easily – then gently slide the fish from its bones in as large sections as possible with the help of a palette knife.
Whole small fish can be used instead of the sea bass. Allow one per person. Use thinly sliced potatoes instead of the courgettes, green beans and carrots as the vegetables. Make a herb sauce to serve on the side, stirring lemon juice, chopped fennel fronds and capers into a thick, olive oil-enriched mayonnaise.