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!
29 thoughts on “Grilled Halibut with Citrus Pesto atop Vegetable Ragu”
Great action shots in focus! 🙂 I’m not always successful doing that.
Baby Lady tries real hard on the pouring shots and has been trying for a year to catch me tossing something in a pan. She’s really happy with herself right now.
She should be!
LOOK YUMMY!!! I WANT SOME….
Thanks. It was very good. 🙂
Richard, LOVE the zucchini and mushroom ragu!! What a great option for vegetarians. This looks insanely delicious! But everything you and your wife make looks fabulous! Love this recipe!
Thanks, Alice. You’re very kind. We liked it a lot and Baby Lady’s photos came out great.
That photo looks like a nice challenge for Conor!
Champagne balsamic sounds weird to me.
I had never heard of vegetable ragù before but it seems tasty and and a good combination with the halibut and pesto. And a rarity: no chile peppers in this! 😉
Hi, Stefan. Conor says he has already topped the photo. Baby Lady is waiting to see what he did. He clearly has the camera to do anything he wants. The champagne balsamic tastes like balsamic. It was a Christmas gift from my brother and we had been waiting for an opportunity to use it. As for the vegetable ragu, they have been rather popular in the US for a while now and I have seen them made with a variety of veggies in a variety of ways. This one is pretty darn tasty and I always like using vegetable ragus with fish. They provide a nice bed for the fish and add a nice bright element to the dish. You should give veggie ragu a try sometime. While we could have added crushed red chile flakes to the ragu, we opted not to. 😉
The photo of the plated dish in the header is great by the way! It looks like one could lick the pesto right off the screen 🙂
I am a bit of a purist when it comes to balsamic, even though real artisan balsamic is quite pricey.
P.S. Looking forward to a post about Squirrel with Chiles à la Richard 🙂
Just back in at midnight after an industry dinner. I love this post. Halibut is my favourite fish. The squirrel shot broke me up. Please tell Baby Lady that I have outdone that pretty excellent shot (she just does not know it yet) with something completely different. More on that anon.
Look after yourselves,
Thanks, Conor. I told Baby Lady you topped her shot and she is looking forward to seeing what you have done.
It was a hen reference. I could not top that shot. However, that won’t stop me from trying some food throwing shots over the coming weeks.
Tossing, Conor, tossing. No food fights allowed. 😉
This sounds like a fantastic dish, Richard. The ragu and citrus pesto bring a great deal of flavor to what is one of my favorite fish. In fact, I’ve a halibut recipe coming up. Mom made a dish similar to your ragu, though champagne vinegar wasn’t around and we never cooked fennel. Still, should you ever have any left over, it makes a great frittata. 😉
Thanks, John. Glad you liked it. I would imagine the leftovers would make a great frittata. Next time, I will need to make enough to have leftovers besides Baby Lady’s lunch.
1. What kind of olive oil dispenser is that?
2. If you kill the squirrel, please don’t post it!
Hi, Mimi. Thanks for the nice compliment. The olive oil dispenser is called a Fusti. It holds about 1 gallon of olive oil which lasts us about 1 year. Baby Lady bought this one online from the Olive Press but they are available elsewhere, as well. We talked about getting one for 2 years and finally bought it about 1 year ago. We like it a lot and it gives us a functional way to store our olive oil. As for the squirrel…
sorry, but I’m a squirrel whisperer and rehabilitator. seriously. love them. but yes, they can wreak havoc!
This looks soooo good, Richard. I especially love pesto with any type of seafood. Mmm.
Thanks, Peggy, for the nice compliment. The pesto went exceptionally well with the veggie ragu and tied the dish together incredibly well. We really liked it and will probably be making it again..
I’m writing to you on behalf of FastPaleo.com to see if you would be interested in sharing some of your recipes with us. We’re a recipe sharing site with a database of more than 2,500 recipes and constantly growing. Every time you upload a recipe we post to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and of course we always link back to you. We also do special blogger shoutouts on Facebook, thus creating lots of traffic for your blog.
To upload a recipe, simply go to FastPaleo.com and follow the instructions! Would love to see your name pop up there soon!
Thank you for the invitation. That is such a nice compliment to our site. While we are not a Paleo site, we make a lot of Paleo friendly dishes and will certainly contribute when we have something to share.
This looks so delicious! And good job on the tossing picture ;P
Thanks, Trine-Marie. It looks like you have had a fun Spring Break. I also saw you took along the last book of the Wheel of Time series. My sons are big fans of the Wheel of Time series. I read the first six books and quit because it was so long in between books. I was forgetting what occurred previously and didn’t want to read the books again. In fact, I got them into reading the books. They were very concerned when Robert Jordan died but have told me Brian Sanderson did an excellent job finishing the series.
Well, it should have been the first one. I haven’t read them yet 😛