Halibut fosters a sort of love hate relationship. It’s heavenly to eat but commonly over cooked especially when grilled. Quickly searing fillets then simmering them in a sea of tomatoes, roasted red peppers and fresh tarragon increases the chances of moist texture and imparts flavor in each bite, complimenting halibut’s natural mild flavor.
Halibut season has begun and will run through the fall. Choose fillets that are shiny and clear and save yourself one step by asking the seafood department to remove the skin. I’m often asked how much to allow per person. I think a five to six ounce fillet is just right which means one and a quarter to one and a half pounds for four people.
This recipe is intended to be a simple 30 minute weeknight meal so I’ve kept the ingredients to a minimum. It relies on the vibrant flavors of the roasted red peppers, tarragon and Calamata olives. Additional ingredients could be sliced zucchini or green beans simmered with the tomatoes or crumbled feta or goat cheese sprinkled on at the end. A pinch of capers and red pepper flakes are options too. Buying jarred roasted red peppers is a time saving convenience, but of course you can always roast your own and I’ve included a method in the note of the recipe.
I cook quinoa as regularly as I do rice. It goes particularly well with this healthy Mediterranean inspired recipe soaking up the juice from the tomato sauce in every bite and it’s gluten free. I’ve included a recipe for cooking it in the note.
- 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb halibut fillet, skinned and cut into 4 pieces, about 5-6 ounces each (ask seafood department to remove the skin and individually cut the fillets)
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
- 28 oz chopped canned tomatoes with juice (see note)
- 1 cup thinly sliced roasted red pepper (half of a 16 ounce jar) (see note)
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon, plus more for garnish
- ½ cup pitted Calamata olives
- Sprinkle flesh side of halibut with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat; add halibut and cook until lightly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes; remove and keep close by.
- In the same skillet, add an additional 1 tablespoon of olive oil if necessary and cook onions and garlic until softened, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes (with juice) and red peppers and simmer 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in tarragon and season with salt and pepper. Place halibut fillets, browned side up, in a single layer over and lightly nestling into tomatoes.
- Cover and simmer on low heat just until halibut is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets.
- Remove halibut from skillet. Stir in olives then spoon sauce around and on top of fillets. Sprinkle with additional chopped fresh tarragon.
To roast a red pepper: Preheat broiler. Cut a large red bell pepper in half widthwise and remove stem and seeds. Place cut side down on a baking sheet. Broil until skin is charred, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from broiler and place a wet paper towel over the charred red pepper; allow sitting until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Remove charred skin from pepper.
To cook quinoa: rinse 1 cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer then transfer to a small saucepan and add 2 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer just until quinoa is soft and water is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 3 cups.