Un Dîner Provençal – Crusted Halibut Fillet with Vegetable Ragoût

PB wasn’t feeling too hot last night, and to be honest I think we both are still a bit homesick for our home away from home, a.k.a. France. So I set out to create in our kitchen some of the dishes that we ate there on our recent trip.

When we were in Eze, we were recommended by a friend to try out a small, very chilled restaurant close to our hotel. There, they served 3 starters, 3 mains and 3 desserts. That was it, and the simplicity of it all was quite refreshing. My starter featured a brandade sitting atop a vibrantly tasty bed of red peppers and olives ragout – this ragoût recipe here features other vegetables as well, so it’s more like a ratatouille.

When in Gordes, we had an amazing meal at Le Loup Blanc  – in this instance, ‘loup’ refers to the fish, and not the canine variety. As you may have guessed it, this restaurant specialises in fish and seafood. When I say specialised, I really mean it – the only non-seafood dishes on the menu were “foie gras maison” (starter), “a piece of beef” (main course), and dessert. We ate cod roasted in pesto, which formed a nice crust on top of the fish that I wanted to re-create.

Simple, fresh ingredients –  you can’t really go wrong! These recipes are pretty straight forward and don’t require a lot of fuss – and you’ll really enjoy the results!

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Vegetable Ragoût 

You’ll need (serves 6 as a side dish):

Olive Oil
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 aubergine (large), peeled and chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 courgettes, chopped
2 red peppers, seeds removed, flesh chopped
1 400g can of plum tomatoes
1/4 can of water
pinch of sugar
Dash of balsamic vinegar
1 spring of fresh oregano, leaves chopped
Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped
1 lemon, zested

 Chop all of the vegetables into a 1/2 inch dice. Heat the olive oil in a wide pan over medium heat and fry the garlic until fragrant. Add the aubergine, onion, courgettes and red pepper to the pan and fry for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soften and golden brown in places.

Stir in the tomatoes, sugar, balsamic vinegar and oregano and cook for a further 20 minutes until reduced to a thick, rich consistency.

Stir in the lemon zest and parsley and serve.

Note: This recipe would be great if you are undertaking the Wild Rose Detox, and would make a satisfying and filling meal with perhaps some brown rice/quinoa and grilled chicken.

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Crusted Halibut Fillet 
You’ll need (serves 6):

1 cup panko breadcrumbs
3 tbsp/45g melted unsalted butter
Large handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested (I used two for extra lemon-y flavour!)
Salt and pepper
Six pieces of 1 1/2 inch-thick halibut fillets (or other white fish)

Heat the oven to 220°C/425°F, and position the rack in the center of the oven.

In a bowl, combine the butter, parsley, panko and lemon zest – season with salt and pepper. (If you are preparing the mixture in advance, add the panko at the last moment so it remains crispy.)

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Line a baking tray with parchment paper (or if you don’t have any,  foil oiled with a bit of olive oil), and arrange the halibut fillets on the tray, season with salt and pepper. Divide the panko mixture between the fillets, spreading it evenly and pressing lightly so it adheres.

Roast the fillets for 10-12 minutes (depending on the thickness). If the breadcrumb crust starts browning too much, cover the fillets lightly with a piece of foil.

Serve immediately.

Note: We eat a lot of salmon at home, it’s more readily available and let’s face it, cheaper (I paid HK$350 for halibut for two people at GrEAT) .  I’m sure this style of cooking will work really well with salmon as well, but I’d throw some dill in the crust mixture.

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