Pair this recipe with the Yellow “Rice” with Serrano Ham, and you’ve got a showstopping main event. The colors yellow-orange orzo, brilliant red peppers, jet-black tapenade, and pearly white fish fillets are only the beginning of the story. The happy ending is the way the sweet, salty, earthy, briny flavors come together so beautifully.
- Yield: 6 Servings
- Preparation Time: 20 Minutes
- Cooking Time: 10 Minutes
- 1½ cups Gaeta olives, pitted
- 1½ cups Sicilian or Greek oil-cured black olives, pitted
- 2 anchovy fillets
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 tablespoons capers, preferably “nonpareil,” drained
- ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Six 7- to 8-ounce halibut fillets, with skin
- Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 large red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded or 3 cups sliced (¼-inch-wide strips) bottled roasted red peppers (be sure the label says “roasted” or “fire-roasted”)
- Put all of the tapenade ingredients into the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the work bowl, until smooth. Scrape the tapenade into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. The tapenade can be made up to 3 days in advance.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Pat the halibut fillets dry with paper towels. Season generously with salt and pepper. Heat the canola oil in a large ovenproof skillet (no plastic handles!) over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Slip the halibut fillets skin side down into the pan and cook until the skin is browned and blistered and the edges of the fish are starting to look opaque, about 3 minutes. Flip the fish over and place in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the fillets are just opaque in the center.
- While the fish is cooking, warm the red peppers in a skillet over low heat.
- To serve, place a small mound of red peppers on each plate and place the halibut next to the peppers. Using 2 teaspoons, form a quenelle (egg shape) of tapenade and set atop each fillet.