Roasted Halibut with Fennel, Blood Oranges & Olives

February 13, 2011

Aunt Suzy says . . .

This is a fabulous dish to make for a special occasion.  It’s from a Williams-Sonoma catalog from many years ago that came out around Valentine’s Day.  I love making it for V-Day – the deep red of the blood oranges are a perfect match to the color most associated with this particular occasion.   Another beautiful-to-look-at dish, I serve it with garlic roasted potatoes and the celery-pecorino salad shown in the photo.  We usually think of red wine for Valentine’s Day, but I can’t imagine one that would pair well with this dish.  A Sauvignon Blanc, other than New Zealand, works really well as does a White Bordeaux.

Preheat oven to 400°  F

(quantity ranges are based on 4-6 servings)

4-6 tablespoons EVolive oil

1-2 fennel bulbs, cored and thinly sliced

1-2 tablespoons snipped fennel fronds

5-6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

6 pieces orange peel, 1-inch square

4-6 halibut (or sea bass) filets

2 blood oranges

3/4-1 cup mixed pitted green and black olives

4-5 bay leaves

Heat (stovetop) half the olive oil in a medium or large saute pan, depending on how many pieces of fish you are cooking.  Saute the fennel over medium-high heat for 4 minutes or so until beginning to soften, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and saute 1-2 more minutes until fragrant.  (Be sure that fennel and garlic do not brown.)  Add the wine and boil for 1 minute to burn off the alcohol.  Add the orange juice and peel, simmer 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

Season the fish with salt and pepper and place on top of the fennel mixture.  Drizzle the fish with a little of the olive oil.  Prepare the oranges by cutting off the top and bottom, peeling with a knife to cut off both skin and pith, then slicing cross-wise in 1/3-inch slices.  (Speaking from experience, make sure all the white pith is removed or the orange – it has an awful bitterness.)  Place the orange slices, olives and bay leaves on and around the fish.  Roast, uncovered, in the oven until the fish is opaque throughout, 15-25 minutes depending on thickness of the fish.  Discard the bay leaves.  Place pieces of fish on individual serving plates then spoon the sauce on and around the fish.  Garnish with the fennel fronds.

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