A Hunky Halibut

A halibut dish guaranteed to make an impression.

A halibut dish guaranteed to make an impression.

When I placed this dish of “Halibut and Spinach with Orange-Pine Nut Vinaigrette” in front of my husband one Saturday night, he exclaimed:

“Wow! Fancy!”

It does look pretty impressive, I must admit. Like a restaurant-quality dish. But would you believe it took mere minutes to make?

The recipe is from the new Curtis Stone cookbook, “What’s For Dinner” (Ballantine Books), of which I received a review copy. Yes, those of you who pooh-pooh celeb TV chefs as nothing more than pretty faces should know that Stone, the host of “Top Chef Masters,” can actually cook. The Aussie is classically trained and learned his craft alongside greats like Michelin three-star chef and notorious bad-boy, Marco Pierre White.


The 130 recipes in this book are designed for our busy lives today. They are geared toward different days of the week, such as “One-Pot Wednesdays” when you don’t want to spend a lot of time cleaning up, and “Thrifty Thursdays” when you want something delicious that’s easy on the wallet.

The halibut dish falls under “Time-Saving Tuesdays.” Truly, you can have it on the table in about 20 minutes, too.

The fish is simply seared on both sides. Stone is spot-on with the cooking times for the fish, too — just 3 minutes on each side. Remove the fish from the pan, then saute spinach with shallots (or red onion in my case, when I was low on shallots). Arrange it all on plates, then drizzle over a simple vinaigrette redolent of tarragon, shallots, champagne vinegar, olive oil and honey. What really makes the dressing is the addition of freshly zested orange rind, which adds a pop of brightness, and toasted pine nuts that add a rich crunch.

In the time you order a pizza to be delivered, you can have this on the table instead.

And believe you me, nobody’s ever going to say, “Wow! Fancy!” to a take-out pizza.

To learn more about Stone and get his tips for effortless summer entertaining, read my interview with him in this month’s Every Day with Rachael Ray, my first story for that magazine.

Halibut and Spinach with Orange-Pine Nut Vinaigrette

(Serves 4)

For orange-pine nut vinaigrette:

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and coarsely crushed or left whole

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For fish and spinach:

4 (5- to 6-ounce) skinless halibut fillets

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced into rings

2 (6-ounce) bags fresh baby spinach

To make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, mix olive oil, vinegar, shallots, honey, tarragon, and orange zest with a fork to combine (but not emulsify). Stir in the pine nuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To cook the fish: Season the halibut with salt and pepper. Heat a large non-stick skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil, then add the halibut and cook, without moving it, for about 3 minutes, or until deep golden brown on the underside. Turn the halibut over and cook for about 3 minutes more, or just until it is barely opaque in the center when flaked with the tip of a small knife. Transfer to a plate.

To cook the spinach: Wipe out the skillet and return it to medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, then add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes, or until they just begin to soften. Add the spinach in batches and stir for about 1 minute, or just until it begins to wilt. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide spinach among four dinner plates. Top each with a fillet. Spoon the vinaigrette over the fillets and spinach mixture. Serve immediately.

Adapted from “What’s For Dinner” by Curtis Stone


More “Top Chef”-Connected Recipes: Plum Tart by Gail Simmons


And: Apple-Pork Ragu with Pappardelle by Stephanie Izard


And: Roasted Manchurian Cauliflower by Suvir Saran


And: Zinfandel Spaghettini with Spicy Rapini by Michael Chiarello


And: Baked Scallops with Porcini Butter by Rick Moonen


And: Acorn Squash, Stracciatelle & Sage by Chris Cosentino


And: Chilled Soba Noodles with Spicy Orange Sesame and Tofu by Susan Feniger

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  • That looks really tasty and refined! A great way of preparing this fish.



  • Sounds easy enough for a weeknight dinner. Will have to get the S.O. to try this!

  • I’m seeing some terrific Alaskan halibut in the markets now, so this is a really timely recipe. So simple, and it looks quite tasty. Sounds like a fun book. Good review and recipe – thanks.

  • I love halibut. And keeping it simple is always the best approach. I knew Curtis Stone could cook because I remember watching him before Top Chef Masters when he used to do that show where he’s help people cook at home. I used to walk around the grocery aisles hoping to bump into him but no such luck. LOL

  • i personally find curtis stone to be the epitome of a hunk, so i appreciate your post title. 🙂

  • What a beautiful piece of fish! May I ask where you buy seafood in the Bay Area? We love Cook’s in Menlo. It never disappoints. 🙂 And congrats on the new piece for Every Day with Rachael Ray. Ten or so years ago, it was my dream to work with one of the Food Network (and/or Food Network darlings’) publications. Alas, the 9-5 always comes first. One day, I’ll have to change that. Thanks for another lovely recipe!

  • Emily: Cook’s is great. I was so bummed when Race Street Seafood closed in San Jose. That was my go-to place. Now, I buy fresh fish mostly from local farmers markets. Been very happy with the quality.

  • I love the sound of this dish…especially the vinaigrette topping.

  • Wow, this dish looks so elegant! Sounds like a good cookbook to buy. 🙂

  • Interesting recipe – fish with a vinaigrette. I’ve never had anything like that. This dish looks quite good and something that would probably be a huge hit in this house! Thanks for sharing!

  • Pingback: White Fish Favorites Finer Lifestyle | Finer Lifestyle

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