After what seems like weeks and weeks of heavy, not so healthy eating we decided not to calorie splurge for Sunday dinner this week which we usually do. During the work week we try to keep it relatively healthy, always for breakfast & lunch and mostly for dinners. But on the weekend we have the time to cook and when we cook all day to make a meal it's usually not focused on being a healthy one. Just being honest.
But this past Sunday we both felt a need to keep it a bit lighter. We looked back in one of our favorite recipe resources, our collection of Cuisine at Home magazines (they are still one of the only cooking magazines we get that doesn't have their recipes available online.) We found a recipe we had marked as one we wanted to cook from a December 2008 issue that we had never got around to actually making. Perfect.
Parmesan-Crusted Halibut in Crazy Water with Zucchini, Tomatoes & Orzo sounded like a long title but absolutely right up our alley. We love halibut and the fact is in the winter we don't eat nearly enough of it. Crazy water sounded a bit interesting, after reading about the recipe we learned the recipe is based on an Italian recipe and it's called crazy water because the broth is made with wine, water, fragrant herbs, and veggies. Didn't sound too crazy for us.
Luckily our favorite fish market nearby, Metropolitan Market, had some really good looking halibut. It was previously frozen given the time of the year but it looked and smelled about as fresh as we'd be able to find.
The recipe starts with smearing the halibut with some store bought pesto (I also found some freshly made pesto at Met Market) and then creating a Parmesan and panko crust that goes on top of the pesto.
Evidently to make the true Italian version of the recipe the halibut would poach in the "crazy water" but in order to keep the Parmesan crust crispy in this recipe we baked the halibut in the oven separately from the broth. And this absolutely was a great call. That crispy crust eaten with the savory, briny broth was fantastic.
It really was a deliciously, flavorful meal. All of the components played perfectly off each other; the kalamata olives, lemon juice, roasted red peppers contrasted with the crispy, pesto flavored sweet halibut.
We enjoyed our wonderful Parmesan crusted halibut with an oaky Walla Walla 2013 Waterbrook Reserve Chardonnay.
Parmesan-Crusted Halibut in Crazy Water with Zucchini, Tomatoes & Orzo
Makes 2 servings : Total Time about 45 minutes
1/4 C panko crumbs
2 Tblspns grated Parmesan cheese
Minced zest of 1/2 a lemon
Salt & Pepper to taste
4 tspns purchased pesto, divided
2 halibut fillets, 1-inch each (4 0z. each)
For the Crazy Water:
1/4 C minced red onion
1 tspn minced garlic
1/4 tspn red pepper flakes
2 tspns olive oil
1/4 C dry white wine
2 1/2 C water
1/2 C halved grape tomatoes
1/4 C dry orzo pasta
1 tspn sugar
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 C coarsely chopped zucchini
1/2 C jarred roasted red pepper, cut into strips
1/4 C halved kalamata olives
2 Tspns chopped fresh parsley
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Preheat oven to 450; coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
Combine panko, Parmesan, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a bowl. Spread 1/2 pesto on each piece of halibut and arrange on prepared baking sheet. Press panko mixture onto pesto side of halibut, spritz crumbs with nonstick spray, then refrigerate until ready to roast.
Saute onion, garlic, and pepper flakes in oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat for the 'crazy water.' Cook until soft, about 3 minutes, then deglaze with wine. Simmer until nearly evaporated, then stir in water, tomatoes, pasta, sugar, and thyme. Cook until orzo is tender, about 9 minutes.
Roast fish while orzo simmers. Cook fillets until crumbs are golden and flesh flakes easily with a fork, 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets.
Add zucchini, red pepper strips, and olives to crazy water; simmer just until heated through. Off heat, stir in parsley, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. To serve divide broth between 2 shallow bowls, top each with halibut fillet, and garnish with lemon wedges.