Saturday, August 15, 2009

Meyer-Lemon Poached Halibut with Tuscan Bean Salad & Chard

I'm on a little bit of a chard kick right now. It's in season, and it's just divine everywhere I go looking for it. The bunches at the farmer's market yesterday were so lusciously green and leafy, I bought two different varieties. In this dish, I chose to use the classic Swiss variety.

My good friend Colleen, who "doesn't eat quadripeds," challenged me to make a meal with fish. Since I've really been dialing back the bipedal and quadripedal animals myself lately, I was all too excited to make it work. I decided on halibut, which is a notoriously not-overly-fishy fish. Only after I bought a gorgeous filet did Colleen tell me that apparently, halibut is also one of the most difficult fishes to cook.

Undaunted, I decided that cooking the halibut in a sauce on low heat would keep it moist and prevent it from overcooking. My instincts were correct, and we found ourselves with a couple of delicious, quadriped-free dinners.



Tuscan Bean Salad:

~1 c. cooked chickpeas (canned is fine)
~1/2 c. cooked cannellini beans (canned is fine)
~ 1 c. cooked wheatberries
glug of good olive oil
zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon
chopped fresh rosemary
chopped fresh oregano
chopped fresh dill (or you could use parsley)
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes


1 large bunch fresh Swiss chard, tough stems removed, chopped into pieces
a little olive oil
salt and pepper

Halibut and sauce:

1 shallot, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
3 T. butter
Two fresh halibut filets
1/2 c. dry white wine
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
Juice of 3 on-the-vine tomatoes (use a sieve to prevent any seeds from getting through)


In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the Tuscan Bean Salad. Toss to combine. Allow to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Blanch the chard (dunk for about a minute into boiling water, then drain and rinse with cold water). Set aside.


Heat the olive oil and butter and in large, semi-deep skillet that has a tight-fitting lid. Cook the shallots until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.


Add the white wine, lemon juice, and tomato juice and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low. Season the broth with a little salt and pepper and add the fish fillets to the broth. Cover and cook until halibut is just cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Do not overcook. Remove halibut and set aside. Cook the sauce on high heat for another few minutes until it reduces a bit.


While the fish is cooking, in another skillet, heat a little olive oil for the chard. Saute the chard quickly until it is hot and just a tad more tender than it was from blanching. Season with salt and pepper.


On two plates, spoon some Tuscan Bean Salad. Place some sauteed chard on top of the salad. Top off each with a halibut filet, then pour the poaching liquid over everything. Serve and enjoy!

If you wanted to make this salad more quickly, using canned beans would be fine. I really liked the texture of the beans I cooked myself, although I came perilously close to oversalting the bean salad - I just dialed back the salt elsewhere and the overall dish came out fine...whew!

The bitterness of the chard was a nice astringent complement to the creaminess of the beans and the succulent, tender fish. I thought the sauce was pretty strongly lemony, but being a lover of all things lemon, it certainly wasn't too lemony for me!

Overall, I thought the meal felt really indulgent when it was actually really light and healthy. Here's what Colleen thought:

"Basically this is my ideal summer meal - light lemony fish, a bed of greens, and magic chickpea melangé. I'm still not quite sure what makes Meyer lemons so amazing, but I swear I could taste a difference in the sauce. Next time I would not brine the beans (though I enjoyed the salt a great deal) - I think it's easy to just add seasoning later on. Maybe we (you) could try an iteration of this dish again for the wintertime and create a more hearty, brothy sauce and winter greens? Mmmm, broth."

Not too shabby! (And I totally agree about brining the beans - a very salty oops. I had no idea the beans would soak up the salt from the water the way they did.)

It was a successful, laid back dinner at home followed by a tour de Ukie-village bars - deliciousness followed by friends and chatter! Saturday night, perfected.

Thanks for reading! More soon...

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