Do you like halibut? Baby Lady loves halibut and she really loved this meal. Everything played so very well together. Are you hungry?
Making my mid-week trek to the market, I noticed they had some beautiful halibut on sale. Inasmuch as Baby Lady loves halibut, I simply couldn’t leave without some. Of course, I had no earthly idea what I was going to do with it. The weather has been stunning of late so I could cook outside on the gas grill. Then, however, I would have to get the patio chair cushions out of the garage where they are stored and I simply didn’t want to go to the trouble. The squirrels are still out and about and the cushions went into the garage along with the covers when a squirrel shredded one of the covers for a nest. GRRR! Stupid squirrel. The pellet gun is now out so if I ever see him again, he’s dinner!
Ah, but I digress. Outdoor cooking and dining was out of the question. Next, I could make a beautiful crust and bake the halibut. That would be nice and I had a variety of items I could use for the crust but I wasn’t in the mood for baked halibut. I wanted something relatively fresh and bright that would be a great accompaniment to the zucchini in the fridge I needed to use. I also wanted something relatively quick. As I thought about it I decided to grill the halibut in a skillet with a little salt and pepper, top it with a loose, citrusy pesto and serve it with a chunky vegetable ragu. That’s the idea!
Now, to some, this may seem a bit odd. You see, traditionally, ragu is thought of as an Italian meat sauce typically served over pasta or polenta. Typical Italian ragus include Bolognese sauce and Neapolitan ragu although Italian ragus are many and varied. But is it a ragu or ragout and does it make any difference? In France, ragout is a meat stew. Like Italian ragus, French ragouts are too numerous and varied to count. French ragout could be served as a main dish or as a side. If served as a side, it was served with boiled potatoes, noodles or some other starch. Regardless of whether it is a ragu or a ragout, at some point in time, someone wanting some of the flavors of the ragu/ragout but without the meat decided to use faux meat, i.e. chunky vegetables. In France, vegetable ragouts were typically made with root vegetables. As time passed, however, other vegetables were used.
Not being Italian or French and constrained by tradition, I opted to make a zucchini and mushroom ragu. Instead of serving it as a sauce over pasta/noodles, I decided to use it as the bed on which to place the halibut. I knew the flavor of the pesto would mix ever so well with the flavors of the ragu and make a delightful meal. I was 100% correct and Baby Lady liked it so much, she took the leftovers for lunch today. This is what we did.
For the Ragu
- 2 cups Shiitake mushrooms, diced
- 4 large Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 2 medium zucchini, roughly 6 inches long, cubed 3/4 inch cube
- 1/4 large white onion, sliced
- 1/2 bulb fennel, sliced
- 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1/2 Tbsp champagne Balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp fresh black pepper, or to taste
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
For the Citrus Pesto
- 1 cup fresh basil
- 2 cups flat leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1 lime juiced
- salt and pepper to taste
For the Halibut
- 3 halibut steaks, roughly 6 oz each
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
For the Ragu
Add olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onions and fennel.
Cook over medium-high heat, tossing periodically to ensure even cooking.
Baby Lady is very proud of this photo and has been trying to capture me tossing all sorts of things when I cook. She finally got it and wants our blogging buddy Conor Bofin over at One Man’s Meat to top that. 😉
Cook the onions and fennel until the onions are translucent and the fennel is soft. Now add the minced garlic.
Saute over medium high heat for 1 – 2 minutes until the garlic becomes fragrant. Do not let the garlic burn. Then add the chopped, peeled tomatoes.
Cook the tomatoes over medium heat until the tomatoes break down, roughly 4 – 6 minutes. Now, add the basil
The bell peppers
and the mushrooms.
If the sauce has gotten a little thick, add some water and cook an additional 5 – 6 minutes until the mushrooms have softened and released their liquor. Now add the zucchini
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and champagne Balsamic vinegar
Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes for the zucchini to cook through and the flavors to develop. Do not overcook until the zucchini is mushy. Taste and adjust seasoning, as needed. Cover and set aside until ready to plate.
For the Pesto
Now, while I’m doing all of this work and Baby Lady is taking photos, she also had time to make the pesto. She’s pretty wonderful. 🙂
Add the basil, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, lime juice, pine nuts and parmesan cheese to the food processor.
Drizzle olive oil to get the desired consistency
Add sea salt to taste and set aside until ready to plate.
For the Halibut
Season both sides of the halibut with alt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Add oil to a heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add the halibut filets to the skillet.
Cook for roughly 3 – 4 minutes until a nice golden crust has formed, then turn.
Cook the other side until the interior is opaque, roughly another 3 minutes or so. Do not cock until the halibut “flakes” because you will have overcooked it. Remember residual heat continues to cook your food after you remove it from the heat. You want the halibut to be moist and tender, not dry and flakey.
Place a generous helping of the vegetable ragu in the middle of the plate.
Place a halibut filet atop the vegetable ragu.
Spoon some citrus pesto over the top of the halibut allowing it to run into the ragu below.
Serve & enjoy!