What do you do when you’re asked to create a recipe and you have a freezer full of meat? Go out and buy fish, of course.
I recently cleaned out the freezer and declared that we would most certainly NOT be buying any more meat. In our freezer, pork and beef are the main attraction, and it’s all thanks to the meat clearance section at the grocery store. As I wrote that, I realized that meat clearance doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it?
But there’s nothing wrong with this clearance meat, other than it’s quickly approaching sell-by date, and we are incapable of passing up a good meat deal. At the grocery store just days after I had made this no-more-buying-meat declaration, Andy walked up to our grocery cart with a 50% off package of pork chops, looking lovingly at them as he put them in the cart. And what did I do? I marveled over the fact that we were getting THREE HUGE PORK CHOPS for only $3! We’re hopeless…
So…when I was selected to participate in Smart & Final’s campaign to come up with a recipe using their La Romanella products, do you think I took it as an opportunity to use up something we already had in the freezer. Nope. Once again, instead of pulling from our frozen stockpile, I went out and bought ridiculously expensive halibut at the fish market.
When browsing for inspiration for this recipe, I knew immediately that I wanted to create two things: a spicy tapenade and a quick tomato sauce. Fresh canned tomatoes make a homemade sauce really easy. And there is no shortage of all things pickled in the La Romanella aisle. Olives, capers and pepperoncini would definitely go into the tapenade.
Here is my Italian-inspired entrée, sans any pork or beef, of course…
Tapenade-topped Pan-seared Halibut over Spaghetti
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and rinsed
1/3 cup Manzanilla olives, pitted and rinsed
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon chopped La Romanella pepperoncini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 can (28 ounces) La Romanella whole peeled pear tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons red wine
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 halibut fillets, about 5-6 ounces each
Put olives, capers, and pepperoncini in a mini food processor. Pulse until chopped finely, but not pureed. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in olive oil and lemon juice. Reserve.
For pasta sauce:
Remove tomatoes from juice and chop roughly. Reserve juice and tomatoes. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until soft. Add garlic, cook about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and juice, red wine, cayenne pepper (if using), salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30- 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Lightly oil halibut and season with pepper. When sauce is ready, heat several tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add halibut fillets and cook 3-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness, until just cooked through.
To serve, plate spaghetti and top with sauce. Place halibut on top and add a spoonful of tapenade.
This turned out to be one of those dishes that completely exceeded my hopes and expectations. It was really, really, really good, and I want to eat it again very soon. The halibut stays so tender, the sauce tastes fresh and light, and the tapenade offers a salty bite with a kick. If you’re trying to get more fish into your diet, dishes like this make it easy.
This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #collectivebias #CBias. All opinions are my own.