HALIBUT WITH NUT CRUST AND APPLE VINAIGRETTE
by Renee Behnke and Cynthia Nims
Halibut takes on great flavor with this hazelnut crust, complemented by the crunch and tang of the apple vinaigrette. In spring, I'll collect some pea vines from our garden to saute and serve alongside. If you're not able to find halibut, other firm white fish, such as turbot or sea bass, can be used
Makes 6 Servings
• 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
• 1/4 cup vegetable oil
• 6 (6-ounce) skinless halibut fillet pieces
• 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 large apple, peeled, cored, and diced (Pink Lady, Fuji, or Gala)
• 1 tablespoon minced shallot
• 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• 3 tablespoons hazelnut or pecan oil (or olive oil in a pinch)
• 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
• 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
• 1/2 teaspoon crushed pink peppercorns
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 cups coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts or pecans
• 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
• 1½ teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1¼ teaspoons salt
• 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
2. For the vinaigrette, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the apple and shallot and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the shallot is tender. Stir in the lemon Juice, sugar, and remaining 5 tablespoons vegetable oil. Transfer half this mixture to a food processor and pulse a few times to finely chop. Combine this with the remaining apple/shallot mixture in a medium bowl. Whisk in the vinegar, nut oil, mustard, thyme, lemon zest, and peppercorns. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside. (Refrigerate the dressing if making more than 1 hour in advance; allow it to come to room temperature before serving.)
3. For the nut crust, combine the nuts, lemon zest, thyme, salt, mustard, and cayenne in the food processor. Pulse 10 to 15 times to finely chop the nuts, until they have a texture of bread crumbs; avoid overprocessmg. You don't want to make nut paste. Transfer to a shallow dish.
4. Stir together the melted butter and vegetable oil in a shallow dish. Dip the halibut in this to evenly coat, allowing the excess to drip off. Immediately coat the fish evenly with the nut crust and set on the baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned and the fish is just opaque throughout (the timing will vary depending on the thickness of the fish).
5. To serve, set the halibut pieces on individual warmed plates. Stir the vinaigrette to remix and spoon it over and alongside the fish.
Do-Ahead Tips: The apple vinaigrette can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated The halibut can be coated with the nut crust and refrigerated for up to 4 hours before cooking. The fish should be baked just before serving.