Almond-Crusted Halibut with Braised Artichokes

almond-crusted fish

51b5wOlpBcL._SL500_Scarpetta Restaurant serves beautiful Italian fare in several North American cities, including my hometown of Toronto. This recipe has been adapted from “The Scarpetta Cookbook” which (amazingly) shares the ins and outs of their most popular dishes. While I would love to create restaurant-quality dish every day, I am also well aware that most of us home cooks are lucky if we can squeeze in an hour’s worth of cooking time for dinner! In an effort to streamline the number of steps yet maintain the flavour profile, here’s my version of Scarpetta’s “Spiced Halibut with Almonds, Artichokes, and Mint” dish. Note: if halibut is unavailable, you can try another firm white fish like Mahi Mahi or Haddock. Frozen fillets work well if you are in a pinch!

For the artichokes:

  • 12 baby carrots
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • pinch, crushed red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 8 baby artichokes
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup canned fava beans, drained and rinsed
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425F (400F  for convection oven). In a small rimmed baking sheet, toss baby carrots with garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes, olive oil and salt. Roast until brown and tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the lemon juice and wine. Trim the artichokes, slice them in half through the stem and remove the choke if necessary (for smaller artichokes, there may be no choke). Put them in the lemon mixture as you work to keep them from browning. Add the broth, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1/2 tsp salt. Cover with a small plate to keep the artichokes submerged and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the artichokes to cool in the liquid.
  3. Drain off all but 1 cup of the artichoke cooking liquid. Add 1/4 cup olive oil to the artichokes and stir over medium heat to emulsify the oil and liquid. Add the roasted baby carrots, fava beans and crushed red pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has thickened and reduced to a few tablespoons of glaze.

For the fish:

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom (or use 50/50 combination of cinnamon and nutmeg)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • crushed red pepper
  • 4 halibut fillets, about 5 ounces each (preferably square)
  • kosher salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  1. While the vegetables are simmering, preheat the oven to 325F (or 300F for convection).
  2. Grind the almonds, crushed red pepper and salt in a spice grinder or food processor until finely ground. Add the thyme.
  3. Season the halibut on both sides with salt and a few flakes of crushed red pepper. Dip one side of the fish into the spice mix, pressing down on the fish to help coat the fish. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the pan well. Add the fish, spice side down, and cook until golden brown on the spice side, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the fish over and sprinkle with thyme. Transfer pan to the oven and cook until medium, about 7 minutes.
  4. Divide the vegetables as well as any remaining liquid in the pan among the plates. Place a fillet, spice side up, on top of the vegetables. If there is any liquid remaining in the pan, drizzle it over each serving (or use olive oil) to finish.

Image: contantine_flux via Flickr

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