AMY BONCHUK / FOR THE SUN
Balsamic halibut in romaine wraps.
Some days, it seems as though time grabs another gear and shifts into warp speed. April has flown by and we are quickly approaching summer. The landscape is glowing with the electric green shade of new life and it’s an annual reminder that it’s time to start thing thinking about the dreaded bathing suit season.
In my personal quest to lighten my lunches and stretch the legs of my new kitchen I picked up some halibut and thought I would present a recipe for those who are looking for a full-flavoured lunch idea that is extra healthy.
Halibut is a white-fleshed fish that, when cooked properly, is juicy and delicious. It is incredibly versatile; its neutral flavour complements almost any seasoning you choose to apply.
This recipe was developed out of necessity. I came into to make some lunch one day and my new fridge, although absolutely gorgeous, was quite sparse inside. My lack of ingredients pushed me to become creative and I combined a little of this, with a little of that; and knowing I wanted to keep the lunch light, I developed a tasty gem, all by chance.
Renee’s Gourmet salad dressings are a product I always have on hand, even when times are tough and the fridge is sparse. I usually have at least three varieties open at one time and I love this Canadian-made product for their all-natural ingredients, no preservatives, and full flavour. I was first hooked when I tried their Garlic Lover’s Caesar dressing; it is a garlic lover’s aphrodisiac. I have since used their dressings and vinaigrettes for marinades, glazes, and sauces.
In a processed food world, I love that Renee’s dressings are perishable. Considering that the majority of salad dressings are sold on a dry-goods shelf and don’t spoil it indicates the large amount of processing that the mainstream dressings have undergone. The fact that Renee’s is full of fresh ingredients, (read: lots of real, fresh garlic!) that means that it has to be kept in the fridge at all times; but in return, it offers more authentic flavour and is significantly healthier.
So I combined Renee’s Balsamic vinaigrette with the frozen halibut fillets, a little cracked pepper and kosher salt and baked them in my new oven. The fish cooked beautifully and turned out tender, juicy, flavour-packed! While I always think of sandwiches or wraps for lunch; I didn’t have any bread or tortillas, so I used romaine lettuce. I took two full leaves, placed them on top of each other in opposite directions so that the rib of the romaine lettuce acted as the framework for the dish, holding up the cucumber and sweet pepper I filled it with. With minimal ingredients, and waistline in mind, I used a light sour cream and avocado as a glue to bind it all together.
The cooking method of baking the halibut in the vinaigrette would make a great entrée for any occasion. Serve it with some roasted vegetables and couscous or quinoa for a full-flavoured, low-calorie meal. Or, get adventurous and place it on toasted English muffins with soft-poached egg and grilled sweet onion for a new take on brunch. There are no limits to the versatile nature of the halibut; its neutral flavour also makes it more palatable for people who don’t like fishier species like salmon and tuna.
This recipe, like most of my recipes, allow for your own personal touch and flair with great substitutions. Renee’s Mediterranean or Italian vinaigrettes, would work instead of the balsamic. Butter lettuce instead of romaine; roasted zucchini and squash instead of cucumber; never limit your culinary imagination. Use what is in your fridge and make it work for the recipe, for your lunch, and for your waistline.
Balsamic Halibut and Romaine Pockets
- 400 grams of halibut fillets
- 1/3 cup of Renee’s Gourmet Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 2 tsp of freshly cracked pepper
- Sprinkle of kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350’F. Place halibut in a baking dish. Top with vinaigrette and cracked pepper and salt. Place fish in preheated oven. Cook for about 25 minutes if frozen, 10 minutes if the fish is thawed. Turn halfway through cooking time. Check for doneness, fish should be flake slightly and yet still be firm and juicy. Remove from oven before the fish is overcooked. Remove the fish from the baking to dish to a plate to cool. Reserve some cooking liquid.
- 8 full-sized romaine leaves, rinsed
- 1 ripe avocado, mashed
- 1/2 cup of light sour cream
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 2 cloves of garlic,
- 4 green onions, sliced
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 small red pepper, cleaned and diced medium
- 1/2 english cucumber, diced medium
In a bowl, mix mashed avocado with lemon juice. Add garlic, green onions, sour cream, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Lay romaine leaves in opposite directions on top of one another. Place approximately 2 Tbsp of avocado mixture and spread it on the middle of the top lettuce leaf. Place cucumber, red pepper, and gently flake the fish. Drizzle with a spoonful of cooking liquid. Fold in half lengthways and eat it, utensil-free like a taco. This versatile sandwich replacement could be plastic-wrapped and kept chilled in a cooler as an innovative picnic option or meal in the field.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition April 28, 2012