Make dinner tonight, inspired!

Wondering what to make for dinner tonight? This is your place for quick and healthy meal inspirations. Here you'll find recipes for seasonally focused dinners, desserts, breakfasts, and everything in between.

My cooking focuses on the freshest ingredients prepared in a simple and careful way, to highlight their uniqueness. My own diet is primarily vegetarian, but does include sustainable fish and seafood, and is gluten free.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to sharing some of my favorite recipes with you!

01 March 2010

Herb Crusted Halibut, Celery Root Puree, Braised Leeks

This is a nice meal, perfect for a weekend dinner or for guests. It's pretty and fresh, and features many of the best flavors of the season, which in this case is early spring. This is a great dinner to make when you have a bit more time. Although it comes together quickly, all the elements cook in about the same amount of time so it does require some organization to make sure everything is ready to plate while it's still warm.

Celery root puree is one my favorite things. It has such intense flavor and creaminess yet is much lighter than potatoes. I cook the celery root in milk with a tablespoon of white rice to thicken and 'starch up' the puree, just a tiny bit. The rice and the celery root cook together and when you puree it in the food processor it adds just enough substance for a silky, creamy mouthfeel. I use the same method with other root veggie purees where I don't want to use potatoes.

Braising leeks is one of the best ways to create tenderness while bringing out their delicate flavor. The good news is that it's a super healthy way to cook them too and it couldn't be easier. Using just one tablespoon of butter and a little water and cooking together until the leeks are tender creates a silky sauce. If you haven't cooked leeks this way, I think it will soon become one of your favorite methods.

I found the loveliest line caught Halibut today, from the San Diego coast. To preserve it's delicate flavor and texture, I like to broil it. Not only does it make for a very fast prep but it allows you to cook the fish with very little oil. Using the bread crumb/ herb crust keeps the top of the fish moist and protects it from drying out under the intense heat of the broiler. Just make sure that you start with a fairly thin piece of halibut, a piece from the tail section is preferable for this cooking method so it cooks through entirely without overcooking on top.

To make the components:
Yields 4 servings

For the Celery Root Puree-
3 medium celery roots, trimmed and cleaned, cut into medium dice
1 TB white rice
1 1/2 cups lowfat milk (1%)
1 garlic clove, smashed
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 TB unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) Add all the ingredients, except for the butter, to a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until celery root is tender and rice is cooked through, about 18-20 minutes. Remove the garlic clove and transfer the remaining ingredients to a food processor. Add the butter and pulse to make a smooth puree. Serve warm.

For the Braised Leeks-
3 medium leeks, washed and halved lengthwise, then cut into 2 " pieces
1 TB unsalted butter
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
3/4 cup water
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

1) In a medium saute pan, melt the butter. Add the leeks, the thyme, and the salt & pepper. Stir to combine. Add the water, cover the pan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, still covered, until leeks are tender, about 15 minutes.

For the Halibut-
1 1/2 pounds fresh Halibut fillet, 1/2"-3/4" thick, portioned into 4 pieces
1 TB fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh chervil, finely chopped
1 TB fresh chives, finely chopped
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 TB Dijon mustard
1 TB fresh lemon juice
1 TB olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

1) Preheat the oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set the halibut fillets on top, and set aside.

2) To make the herb 'crust'. In a small bowl, combine the Panko breadcrumbs, the chopped herbs, and a bit of salt & pepper. Add the Dijon mustard, the lemon juice, and the olive oil, and stir to combine. The mixture will resemble a thick paste.

3) Season the fish with salt & pepper. Spread 1-2 TB of the herb & breadcrumb mixture on top, to form a 'crust'. Drizzle with a tiny bit more olive oil.

4) Place the fish under the broiler until just cooked through, about 6 minutes. Keep a close eye on them while they cook to make sure the breadcrumbs don't brown too quickly. You can always move them down to a lower rack or lightly cover them with foil if the breadcrumbs are browning too quickly, before the fish is cooked through.

To plate the dish:
1) Spoon a bit of the celery root puree into the center of the plate. Top with a halibut fillet. Garnish on the side with the leeks and drizzle a little of the liquid from the leeks around the place. Add a few herbs for color and a lemon segment for drizzling. Enjoy!

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