Saturday, March 28, 2009

Springtime Favorites for Two

The following recipe is one of my favorites because it captures the essence of springtime. I discovered halibut on a trip to Seattle several years ago and now I wait for it in the spring. The halibut season starts in March, so watch for specials at the supermarket. Because you can purchase it by the pound, a piece large enough for two isn't too expensive.You can use aluminum foil if you don't have parchment.

Halibut and Asparagus in Parchment

In the spring when fresh asparagus first begins to appear in the supermarket, it is also the beginning of the season for fresh halibut. Fresh asparagus is one of the easiest vegetables to prepare--just snap off the bottoms of the stalks and rinse well. Buy a thick piece of halibut so it isn’t overcooked when it’s baked.

Makes 2 servings

8 stalks asparagus
1 (8 ounce) halibut filet, about 1 inch thick
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon white wine or water
2 lemon wedges

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F, Snap off the bottoms of the asparagus stalks and place them in a microwave safe dish. Add 2 tablespoons water and microwave on high 1 ½ to 2 minutes. By precooking the asparagus it will be cooked tender crisp when the fish is cooked.

Place a 15-inch square of parchment paper on a baking sheet and fold in half. Place the halibut along the fold and cover with the asparagus. Sprinkle with the shallot, lemon rind, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Dot with the butter and add the wine. Seal the parchment by folding the edges together several times. It’s important that you get the packet sealed so that the fish can cook in the steam inside.

Bake 18 minutes or until the paper is puffed and browned. Remove the packet from the oven and open carefully, allowing the steam to escape. Check the center of the halibut to be sure it’s cooked through. If it isn’t place the packet back in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes longer. Divide in half and garnish with lemon wedges.

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