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Author Notes: My family and I recently returned home from a wonderful trip to Italy. My sister lives there, and one night before we left, she cooked us a feast. One of the dishes was a beautiful risotto, and I was reminded a) just how good a good risotto is, and b) that I should make risotto at home more often.
With that in mind, my thoughts turned to dinner. I'd bought a beautiful hunk of halibut and my garden was going wild in the herbs and greens department. A look in my pantry showed too little arborio rice for my hubby and me but I did see some Israeli couscous. Why not cook it as I would a risotto and use that as the base for the halibut?
Lovely! This was full of flavor, healthy and satisfying, and I will definitely make it again. It would be easy to tweak for a slightly different flavor profile too; for example, use the herbs you've got growing or that sound good to you; try grapefruit zest rather than orange; use a fish other than halibut if you prefer.
For the herb-citrus salsa
- generous 1/4 c mixed, chopped herbs: I used mint, basil, cilantro and spring onion tops
- chopped jalapeño to taste: I used about 1/6 of a 2½" one
- 2 small rounds, sliced from a preserved lemon, diced
- 1 Persian cucumber, left unpeeled, diced
- grated zest of ½ orange
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, or a bit more
- Stir everything together in a bowl and set aside to mull while you prepare the halibut and couscous.
For the halibut and couscous "risotto"
- 2 6-8 oz halibut filets
- freshly ground black pepper
- freshly ground coriander
- 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoons coriander seeds, ground
- ¼ teaspoons coriander seeds, left whole
- grated zest of the other half of the orange
- ¼ cups freshly squeezed orange juice
- ¾ cups Israeli couscous, toasted
- ¼ + ? teaspoons salt
- 1½ cups chicken broth, warmed
- Prepare the halibut: Set oven to low broil, and position a rack below it. Rinse the halibut filets and pat them dry. Drizzle with EVOO, and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and coriander. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until the center is just opaque.
- In the meantime, make the risotto. In a small skillet, toast the couscous if you haven’t already. Pour into a 2-quart saucepan and sprinkle with the salt. In the same small skillet, slick the bottom with EVOO and heat over medium. Add the minced garlic, the grated zest of the other 1/2 of the orange, the whole coriander seeds and the ground coriander. Stir until the garlic has softened but make sure it doesn’t get too brown and doesn’t crisp. Stir in 1 tsp of your salsa (minus cucumber bits if possible) and 1 T fresh orange juice and remove the skillet from heat, keeping close at hand.
- Heat the 2-quart saucepan with the Israeli couscous over medium heat. Add the chicken broth, about 1/4 c at a time, stirring constantly so the “risotto” doesn’t stick to the bottom. When you’ve got just about 1/4 c of broth left, stir the garlic-coriander mixture from the skillet (using a spatula to get all the good stuff) into the “risotto” and stir to combine. Add the rest of the orange juice and chicken broth, lower the heat and stir until you’ve got a perfect creamy risotto.
- Divide into two portions, and serve immediately with the halibut on top, dressing the whole dish with your reserved salsa and a small slice of orange.
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