Special Summer Supper

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Last Saturday night, I cooked at home. This is not the norm; we generally go out on the weekend, but my husband was scheduled to depart early Sunday for a work trip that was to last the entire week, and it seemed the least I could do was to send him off with a home-cooked meal.

And what a meal it was.

I splurged on halibut, an expensively delicious fish — it has a meaty, steaky texture, it retains moisture, and it has a wonderfully mild flavor, so it is compatible with most ingredients. The garlic dill butter and the frizzled shallot elevated the fish to near-restaurant quality, if I do say so myself. But it was oh-so-simple to prepare.

As for sides, I had found some local arugula at the market, and tossed it with pitted dates and shaved Parmesan; the peppery leaves married beautifully with the sweetness of the dates and the briny salty crunch of the cheese.

To round out the meal, I cooked some orzo and seasoned it simply with butter, salt, pepper and chopped parsley. But this meal would pair well with rice, potatoes or just about any cooked vegetable. We also heated some fresh baguettes to dip in the surplus seasoned butter.

Because the meal was fairly indulgent, we were quite full afterward and skipped dessert, but if your sweet tooth needs satisfaction, a simple dish of ice cream or some dark chocolates would punctuate this meal beautifully.

Halibut with Dill Butter and Frizzled Shallots
Halibut with Dill Butter and Frizzled Shallots (Photo by Keri White)

Halibut with Dill Butter and Frizzled Shallots

Serves 2

I don’t routinely cook with shallots.

I don’t object to them by any means — they are quite delicious but they are just not something I tend to purchase in my normal shopping. I’m more of an onion girl, just out of habit, and I tend to substitute onions for shallots.

But when I cleared out the fridge from a weekend trip to the beach over Memorial Day, I scooped a stray shallot that had been left behind by another guest. I didn’t want to waste it, so I took it home with the other leftover groceries. The lone shallot rolled around my produce drawer for about seven weeks, and finally I had occasion to chop and use it. The micro-thin shallots crisped up nicely, and the turmeric added a nice bit of color as well as a subtle flavor.

As for the dill butter, I used a few schmears on the fish and had plenty left to dip bread, indulgently, during the meal. I did not think of it at the time, but if you double the recipe, you could toss this with orzo, rice or boiled new potatoes and save some time in meal prep.

Although there are several steps and components to this dish all are very simple, and the composition delivers a big “wow.”

For the fish:

  • 2 halibut steaks
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • For the frizzled shallots:
  • 1 shallot, peeled and cut in thin slices
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric

For the dill butter:

  • ½ stick butter, softened (if rushed, heat in microwave for 15 seconds)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Zest of 1 lemon

In a shallow dish, place the fish; coat it with lemon juice and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Set it aside for about 30 minutes at room temperature.

In a medium-size skillet, melt the butter with oil and add the turmeric. When the mixture is beginning to sizzle, add the shallots and let them cook, fairly intensely, for about 8 minutes until they are browning and starting to crisp. Remove the shallots from the oil with tongs and place them on paper towels to drain, leaving the turmeric oil mixture in the skillet.

While the shallots cook, mix all the ingredients for dill butter in a small dish; set it aside at room temperature.

Reheat the skillet with turmeric oil over medium-high heat, and add the fish, skin side up to start. Cover the fish and cook for about 3 minutes; flip, cover and cook another 3-6 minutes depending on thickness. The fish should cut easily and be fully opaque through the center.

Remove the fish from the pan, slather 1 teaspoon of dill butter on each piece, and cover it with frizzled shallots. Serve immediately.

Parsley Buttered Orzo

Serves 2-4

This is an uber-simple dish; it goes with pretty much anything, and you can swap olive oil for butter if a vegan/pareve dish is required. If you don’t have parsley, any fresh, chopped herb can be substituted — just be mindful that stronger herbs like oregano, thyme and rosemary will require less to avoid an overpowering flavor.

  • ½ pound orzo
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup pasta cooking water (if needed)

Cook the orzo in salted water to al dente (generally 1 minute less than package directions.) Reserve ¼ cup cooking of water and drain the pasta.

Pour the hot pasta into a medium-sized serving bowl and add the butter, parsley, salt and pepper. If needed, gradually add the water to help melt the butter and distribute the ingredients. Serve immediately.

Arugula, date and Parmesan salad
Arugula, date and Parmesan salad

Arugula, Date and Parmesan Salad

Serves 4

  • 1 package arugula
  • ⅓ cup chopped dates (use pitted dates and cut in thirds)
  • ½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons best-quality olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons aged balsamic
  • Pinch of salt, sprinkle of pepper

Place the arugula in a salad bowl and top with the dates and cheese.

Drizzle the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper over the salad; toss and serve immediately.

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