Healthy Living: Seared Halibut with Pea-Fava Puree

I apologize for all of you who are sick of my fava-pea kick. Sorry! I’ve gone a little crazy, I confess, but they are so stinkin’ delicious, I just can’t help myself! My poor husband Brandon has had to eat peas and favas now more times in the past month than I care to count, but he’s been a good sport about it…

My favorite way to enjoy favas and peas (besides the salad I wrote about last week) is in this lemony, mint-spiked purée. Once your peas and favas are peeled and blanched (this can be done a day ahead of time, FYI), just toss them into a food processor with mint, lemon, red pepper flakes, extra virgin olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Pulse a few times and you’ve got the most flavorful, brilliantly colored side dish imaginable. This is delicious slathered on toast or eaten as a dip with some crudités (radishes, carrots, peppers, etc.) but it is especially divine with seafood.

Photos by Signe Birck

This dish was inspired by a recipe I found on Epicurious several years ago. I’ve tweaked the recipe quite a bit and I’ve tried it with a variety of seafood: seared scallops, grilled shrimp, and all manner of fish–black bass, cod, hake, and Chilean sea bass. But my favorite is still halibut. I love the sweet, mild flavor of halibut and its firm, white flesh. It’s so versatile and simple to cook. I know many people are intimidated to cook fish, but with a good nonstick skillet and a rubber spatula (plus the right seasonings…see recipe below), it’s surprisingly easy. Just make sure not to over-cook it: you want a nice, golden crust on the outside with opaque flesh that is just cooked through. It should have a moist, silky texture, which is heavenly paired with the minty pea-fava puree. Sometimes I roast a few grape tomatoes, sliced in half, and serve them on top of the fish. But honestly, it’s so good on its own that you don’t even need them.

A note on buying fish: If it smells overly “fishy,” that’s a bad sign. Fresh fish should have a neutral smell. Buy it from a good fishmonger that gets in fresh fish daily. Also, look for wild halibut from the Pacific coast (or from Alaska). It is still abundantly available and therefore safe to eat. Anyway, hope these tips help! Give this recipe a try–if you prep your favas and peas in advance (i.e. the peeling and the blanching), this whole meal can be made in about half an hour: perfect for a healthy, weeknight meal or light, summer dinner party!

Photos by Signe Birck


Serves 4

4 (4-ounce) filets of halibut, skin removed
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped mint
Salt and pepper to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

Pea-Fava Purée:
1 cup fresh peas (removed from the pod)
1 cup fresh fava beans (removed from the pod)
2 tablespoons lemon zest
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, if desired)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the halibut, sprinkle the filets with lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and mint. Let chill for 30 minutes while you prepare the puree. Remove from the refrigerator and season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet until nearly smoking. Place the halibut filets carefully in the pan. Let cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown and then flip. Reduce heat to medium and let cook for an additional 2 to 2 minutes or until opaque, and beginning to flake. Remove to a plate to let sit for a few minutes before serving.

For the fava-bean purée, bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water and set near the pot. Boil the fava beans for 5 minutes or until the white skins are beginning to split. Using a slotted spoon, removed to the ice water to cool. Remove to a bowl. Slip off the white skins and discard.

Meanwhile, add the peas to the pot of boiling water. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until bright green and floating on the top of the water. Using a slotted spoon, remove to the ice water. When cool, drain and place in a bowl.

Place the blanched favas and peas in the bowl of a food processor. Add the lemon zest and juice, mint, and red pepper flakes and pulse several times to combine. Add the olive oil in a steady stream, pulsing steadily to combine. Process until the mixture is combined, but still slightly chunky. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove to a bowl.

To serve: Place a large dollop of pea-fava purée in the center of four plates. Place a piece of seared halibut over the puree and season with a squeeze of lemon, a sprinkling of chopped mint leaves, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with a bowl of course sea salt for seasoning.

WINE PAIRING: This would be delicious with a crisp, dry minerally white wine such as a Picpoul de Pinet from the Languedoc or a pale, dry rosé from Provence.

My name is Anna Watson Carl. In a word, I love food, I love France, and I love throwing dinner parties. Over the years, I've worked as a personal chef, taught cooking classes, edited cookbooks, written for magazines, tested and styled recipes, and traveled whenever opportunity has arisen. But at heart, there's nothing I love more than sharing a meal with friends around the yellow table.

For me, cooking has always been a way of life. As a (mildly precocious) ten-year old, I planned and prepared a four-course Valentine's dinner for my parents, birthing a lifelong passion for dinner parties. That was just the beginning. I've been cooking ever since, whipping up souffles at a chateau in Burgundy, searing filet mignon for a wealthy client's dog (bizarre, but true), butchering ducks for confit de canard in Paris, baking the night shift in Nashville, and bathing the floor of my NYC apartment in turkey brine...the story continues.


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