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Wine Country Cuisine

Grilled Halibut with Cauliflower-Leek Purée, Roasted Tomatoes, and Basil Oil

Wente Foil

The smoothness of the vegetable purée provides a nice contrast to the halibut’s meaty texture. The addition of leeks to the purée helps to tone down the cauliflower’s strong flavors, producing a more balanced and delicate accompaniment for the mild halibut. A vegetable stock or even milk can be used instead of the chicken stock if you want a vegetarian purée. This dish is great with medium-bodied wines such as a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Merlot.

  • 2 red tomatoes
  • 3 yellow tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar 
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 large leek, white part only, julienned 
  • 1 head cauliflower, cored and separated into florets 
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, more for rubbing the fish
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 (6-ounce) halibut filets, skin on
  • 1 red onion, halved lengthwise 

Preheat the oven to 300.

Core the tomatoes and cut in half. Spread the garlic on the cut surfaces of the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with the vinegar. Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 1 hour, until slightly dried out. Keep warm in a low-temperature oven. 

Prepare a medium fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to medium.

Heat the stock in a small, nonreactive stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the leek and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Layer the cauliflower on top of the leek and sprinkle with a little salt. Decrease the heat, cover, and simmer gently until the cauliflower is soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain in a medium-meshed sieve, capturing the stock in a bowl. Purée the cauliflower and leek in a food processor until very smooth. If it is too thick to process, thin with a little of the reserved chicken stock. Return the purée to the pot. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice if necessary. Cover and keep warm over low heat.

To prepare the basil oil, quickly mince the basil. In a small bowl, combine the basil with the olive oil and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Season the halibut with salt and pepper and rub with extra virgin olive oil. Rub the grill rack down with the cut onion to clean it. Place the halibut on the rack, skin side down; the fat in the skin helps to season the grill. Cook, turning once, until still a little translucent inside, about 10 minutes. Be sure to wait until the fish starts to loosen from the grill before turning it; if it’s sticking, its not ready to be turned. If you prefer, you may remove the skin after cooking the fish.

To serve, spoon some cauliflower purée on each plate and place half a red tomato and a half a yellow tomato alongside. Lean the halibut on the purée and drizzle with the basil oil. Serve immediately.