You know, I really think there’s a reason behind this important-dudes-getting-naked epidemic. Everyone is stir-crazy lately. Late August is a nutso-busy time. Some are heading back to school. Some are prepping for Burning Man. (For the first time in my life, I know more of the latter than the former; go figure.) Not to mention the madcap rush to go and do all the things we’d told ourselves we’d do this summer. Camping! Surfing! Bonfires! Rafting! Barbecues every weekend!
I’ve managed to do some of these things.
Also, I made a simple fish-and-summer-tomatoes dinner. And you know what? It’s enough. I’m ready to chill out, and quietly wait for fall. This is a little something for a hectic time. Easy, simple. Sometimes we cook for sanity’s sake. Some of us eat fish. Some of us get naked. No judgment here.
Basic dishes are best when you stand back and allow good, quality ingredients to shine. Ripe summer tomatoes require very little of you and me.
…Very little. See? The path to excellence here is short and sweet.
Same goes for halibut–keep it simple. I love seared fish for that crispy, buttery, brown outside layer and flaky, tender, mildly fishy inside. The thing with halibut… It likes to dry out pretty quickly, I hear.
The good thing is, you won’t be trying to do a million other things at once with this recipe; I don’t know about you, but that’s where I get into trouble and let things slip. It’s not an issue here–all you need is a close eye on the clock and the fish. If clock-and-fish-watching sounds boring, pour some wine!
That’s it. Good home-cooked food doesn’t come much quicker or easier. What will you do after dinner? Homework? Trying on your furry Burning Man boots? Writing cute notes for tomorrow’s bagged lunches? Streaking? It’s your August. Do as you wish!
Pan-Seared Halibut with Heirloom Tomatoes
(recipe from Food and Wine)
2-3 ripe heirloom tomatoes, coarsely chopped and juices reserved
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 6-ounce skinless halibut fillets
1 tablespoon butter
Toss together the first 5 ingredients in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the fennel. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Mix the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of fennel with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and sprinkle this over both sides of the fillets. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, then add the fish and cook until browned on the bottom (about 5 minutes). Flip and add the butter to the pan; continue cooking for a couple minutes more, spooning the butter over the halibut. Remove from pan and serve atop tomato mixture. Top with additional parsley, if you’d like. Serves 2.