Pan-Roasted Halibut with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Butternut Squash

4.8.11 § 9 Comments

Unlike a lot of people, I love grocery shopping. I love picking produce, especially when you have to smell it to know if it’s ripe (peaches, pineapple). I love staring through the glass at the meat counter, trying to pick the perfect cut and imagining what I’d buy if I had an income. I love grabbing a freshly baked loaf of bread and then pulling pieces off to nibble on the way home. Give me a grocery store and a credit card and I’m a happy girl.


Which is why, after not having any time to shop or cook at all last week, this week I went a little nuts: No less than three trips to various Whole Foods around the city, two visits to my neighborhood supermarket, and approximately $200 spent on groceries. (I’d compare my behavior to someone on Easter who gave up sugar for lent. (Which is crazy.))

The height of my craziness was purchasing some halibut, which, as some of you may know, is damn expensive. I got it 25% off at Whole Foods and it was still $15 a pound. Regardless, I thought the sale was kind of a big deal, as I’ve never seen it for less than $20 a pound, so I bought just enough to make dinner for one. I figured I deserved a treat after my previous week of ramen noodles and chips and salsa.


I had a recipe in mind as soon as I saw that sale tag. Like many of my favorites, it comes from one of the Foster’s Market cookbooks, and what can I say? It totally rocked. If I could afford to buy enough halibut to feed more than one person, I would definitely make this for a dinner party, because the components are really easy to throw together (especially if you buy the butternut squash that is already cut into chunks, which is what I did because I loathe that butternut squash gook that gets on your hands).


That said, this recipe does works great with tilapia too, so if you want to try it out but not spend a fortune, you should definitely go with that. Either way, you won’t be sorry. Oh, and if you live in a small town like Clovis, New Mexico (which is where I’m from), good luck finding sherry vinegar. I scoured the grocery stores and couldn’t find it when I wanted to make this for my fam. You can either substitute red wine vinegar or balsamic, but if using balsamic, reduce the amount just a tad. Or you can order sherry vinegar here, which is what I’d recommend. It’s good to have in the pantry.


I almost forgot, I have news! Thanks to a recommendation from one of the editors at SAVEUR, I’ve landed a short-term, freelance gig doing some research at the Food Network. Anybody heard of a show called Chopped? Let’s just say, I’m going to have some insider info on what’s in those ingredient baskets! Not that I can tell you…

Pan-Roasted Halibut with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Butternut Squash
adapted from Fresh Every Day

As written, this recipe serves four. To cut it down, I just halved the squash/tomato part and used 1 fillet.

1 small butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
5 tbsp olive oil
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
4 halibut fillets, cut 1 inch thick, skin on (about 6 oz each) – tilapia can be used as a substitute
2 tbsp fresh marjoram leaves or 2 tsp dried marjoram
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp butter

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the squash, cut-side down, on a baking sheet with sides. Pour 1 cup water and 1 tbsp of olive oil in the pan around the squash and roast for 40 to 45 minutes, until the squash is soft when the long section is pierced with a small knife. Check periodically while it’s cooking and add more water if needed. (*If you’re using squash that is pre-cut into cubes, toss the cubes with olive oil and salt, place on a baking pan with a little bit of water, and roast for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.)

While the squash roasts, place the tomatoes in a small baking dish, and drizzle them with 1 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp of the vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. When there is about 20 minutes left on the squash, slide the tomatoes in the oven, roasting for the remaining 20 minutes or until they are slightly brown and wrinkled.

Let tomatoes and squash cool on the counter; reduce oven temp to 300 degrees.

Meanwhile, rub the halibut with salt, pepper, olive oil, and marjoram. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a nonstick skillet until the oil is about to smoke (until a pinch of salt sizzles when placed in the oil). Place the halibut fillets in the pan, skin side down. It may splatter, so if you have a splatter screen, get it out! Reduce the heat to medium and cook the fish without moving it until it is opaque halfway up the side, about 4 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the fish over, and squeeze the lemon over the fish. Cook about 3 minutes longer, until opaque, tender, and flaky when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Transfer the fish to a platter, cover it with foil, and place it in the oven to keep warm. (If you’re substituting tilapia, which is not as thick, reduce the cooking time accordingly.)

Pour the wine, broth, and remaining vinegar into the pan you cooked the fish in. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Let it boil for 2 or 3 minutes, until the sauce bubbles and thickens slightly. Turn off the heat and whisk in the tbsp of butter.

Remove the skin from the squash with your hands, and cut the squash into bite-sized chunks. Add squash and tomatoes to the pan with the sauce and stir to coat. When warm, season with salt and pepper to taste. Plate (or bowl) your fish, and spoon the sauce, squash, tomato mixture on top and around it. Serve immediately.

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§ 9 Responses to Pan-Roasted Halibut with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Butternut Squash

  • renie says:

    Ok, so no real bread to nosh on on the way home from the local grocery… No fresh halibut to cook… No sherry vinegar (because I DO live in Clovis)… So, while this recipe looks great, gonna have to pass until I move closer to the ocean or a real town!!!n But it does look great! And CONGRATS on the new job!

    • Tyla says:

      You should just move! Haha, no, just kidding…that’s a bit drastic (although it was my solution)…

      And thank you!

  • Mara says:

    ooooh la la that looks yummy. and congrats on your new gig love!

  • Brianne says:

    Oh, girl. Congrats on getting the Food Network job! I first discovered my love for all things food through that channel. Do you get to meet Ted Allen? Alex Guarnaschelli? Oh my gosh, what a sweet gig! This dish looks amazing. I spend way too much money at the grocery store…it’s one of my favorite places!

  • sofia says:

    ahh, halibut. hurt my bank account when i made an impulse-halibut buy at $23.99/ lb for dinner for two. now we are no longer friends, but if i see it on sale again i’ll be making this. and i too love grocery shopping – i find it more exciting than getting new clothing. yeah, i’m a weirdo. whatevs.

  • Alisa says:

    wow, this sounds soooo delicious. A must do! Thx for sharing.

  • Jackie says:

    Congrats on the Food Network job! I also love grocery shopping. I can spend hours shopping for a meal. So glad to know I’m not the only person who has those chips and salsa weeks!

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