Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add lemon, 1 tablespoon water, 1/2 teaspoon oil, and sugar; cook 3 minutes or until water evaporates and mixture just begins to brown, stirring frequently. Set aside.
Place remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons oil in a small microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at high for 10 seconds at a time just until oil is heated. Stir in saffron; let stand 10 minutes.
Combine lemon mixture, saffron mixture, chopped parsley, and next 7 ingredients (through garlic) in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add fish to bag, and seal. Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Layer 1 cup onion slices and 2 cups tomato on the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Remove fish from bag, reserving marinade. Top tomato with fish; pour remaining marinade from bag over fish. Cover with remaining 2 cups tomato and remaining 1 cup onion. Cover with foil. Bake at 400° for 40 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from oven.
Transfer fish and vegetables to a serving platter. Drizzle remaining liquid over fish. Garnish with cilantro leaves, if desired. Serve immediately.
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We may try this again with preserved lemons but the lemons were really bitter making the fish with any sauce on it inedible. Maybe we missed something but I'm pretty sure we were supposed to leave the rind on the lemon...
Very good flavor. No changes to recipe; used halibut which were alittle over 1" in thickness. I was concerned about the cooking time -- 40 mins seemed awful long, but it was right on. The fish was moist and the sauce was wonderful -- served with rice so we could enjoy the sauce. Great meal; will definitely make again.