This is a hearty, earthy dish excellent for cold winter nights and for high-protein, low-fat diets (this preparation gets fewer than 24% of its calories from fat).  Any thick fillet of white fish will work – try cod, rockfish, or sea bass – but halibut is perfect as it absorbs flavors from the sauce and isn’t too oily.  Serve this for guests or family with a sliced, warm baguette and a simple green salad with a bite: add arugula, radicchio, and shaved pecorino romano cheese and dress with lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and herbs.

You will need:

  • 4 halibut fillets (no skin or bones, 6 oz. each)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed, and chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 ripe plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 large can cannellini beans
  • 1 lemon – half wedged, half juiced
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • hot sauce – habanero, Tabasco, or Sriracha
  • bay leaf
  • cumin
  • cayenne
  • oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

1.  Heat a small amount of olive oil in a deep, heavy skillet.  Saute the garlic and onions until translucent, then add the tomatoes and cook until the skins come off and a sauce forms in the pan.

2.  Add the broth, wine, beans, and spices (except the cayenne) to taste.  The beans will absorb a good amount of the seasonings, so be generous – especially with the cumin and pepper.  Leave the bay leaf in the sauce to simmer.
3.  Heat a small amount of oil in another skillet.  Rinse the fish under cold running water, and dust with salt and pepper on both sides.  Sear the fish one or two fillets at a time, then cook for about 5 minutes on both sides, or until it flakes easily with a fork at the densest point.  Sprinkle with cayenne and lemon juice and transfer to a warm oven.
4.  When the sauce is cooked down and thickened, remove the bay leaf and ladle the sauce into wide soup plates or shallow bowls.  Serve the fish over the sauce, and garnish with lemon wedges.


Halibut over White Bean Ragout
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