Fruit or vegetable? I think the age old debate finally ended (with those that have the power to decide) and the decision is a tomato is a vegetable. I grew up being told they were a fruit, but it didn’t matter to me because I have always loved tomatoes. When I was 4, my mom and I used to eat them off the vine with a salt shaker to sprinkle behind every bite. As a kid, when asked “what is your favorite fruit” without hesitation I would say “tomato”. Today, because of the reclassification of the tomato, I say “peach”. Regardless, I live in the capital of tomato country, actually the capital of California aptly nicknamed “Sacra tomato”. Field after field is full of tomatoes. Those big fields full of tomatoes are for processing but every farmers market has a pile of just picked, ready to take home beauties. Why am I talking about tomatoes? Well, I love them so much I thought I should give them their place in the sun. Stop in, squeeze the merchandise, and take some home.
May I have this dance? I couldn’t mention my pal the tomato without his Italian dance partner, Basil. Grab a plant, pop it in the ground (or pot), and enjoy Basil all summer. I find with our summer heat, morning sun and afternoon shade works best. Keep it moist and pick those fat and juicy leaves all season. Garlic, Olive Oil, fresh tomatoes (Romas are best for this), dried Oregano, and Basil. You’ve got homemade Marinara that keeps and freezes.
HAVE PANS WILL TRAVEL
Okay, so I’m leaving the pans at home (they weigh too much for my luggage). But, I have the other important stuff. The knives are in their case and the foam body flies happily in their box. The logo hats are in the suit case ready to grace the heads of my fine Canadian friends. I think they are very lucky hats, lucky because they are going with me on a wonderful adventure to a wonderful place. There is something very magical about fly fishing. Even more magical
when it’s with friends in a place where they treat you like family. Add the satisfaction of cooking fine food for these friends and it doesn’t get any better. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than sit around a table with friends (after a fine day of fly fishing), sharing a good meal (with a glass of wine) and comparing notes about the day. Then making a plan for tomorrow and the promise of another fine day as only fly fishing can bring.
GRILLED HALIBUT WITH OLIVE TOMATO RELISH
Lucky me. Okay lucky everybody. Fresh Halibut is readily available in the markets right now. And coincidentally, right in the middle of fresh tomato season. Add Kalamata olives to the mix and I’m one happy puppy. Kalamata olives are one of my favorite foods. I enjoy them in Greek salad, in olive tapenade, and on just about anything. They are rich and oily and have a great salt punch. Try slicing raw cauliflower about an inch thick, brush with olive oil, cover with some finely chopped Kalamata olives, and bake at 425F for about 20 minutes. You’ll want to make more next time.
Little plates: I decided to serve this dish as a first course on a small plate. It’s a great starter dish on a hot day. It’s light and really easy. If you want it for the main course, double the portion. I love the denseness of Halibut and how it takes on the personality of its plate partner.
Tomato Olive relish
- ¾ cup deseeded and diced tomato
- 6 yellow cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- ½ cup chopped Kalamata olives
- 1 clove of fresh garlic, finely minced
- 1 Tablespoon finely diced red onion
- 3 Basil leaves, finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon of EVOO
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
Combine the ingredients in a bowl and stir gently. Make at least ½ hour ahead allowing the flavors to marry. Serve the relish at room temperature so the tomatoes are at the height of flavor. Refrigeration mutes the flavors of tomatoes so always keep your tomatoes at room temperature for the best flavor.
Pan Grilled Halibut
- 1 – 12oz. Halibut Filet
- 1 Tablespoon EVOO
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- Sea Salt, Fresh cracked black pepper and ½ teaspoon Paprika
Rinse and dry the Halibut filet. Sprinkle both sides with the salt pepper and Paprika. I like to use very little spice on the fish so the relish is the dominant flavor. Heat a heavy skillet on Med-Hi heat (I have a side burner on my BBQ as I like to cook fish outside) for 5 minutes. Add the EVOO until it shimmers. Add the butter and immediately add the fish. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from the skillet, cut into portions and cover each piece with relish. Serve immediately.
Tips: Use the relish as a dip with chips. Halibut is such a dense fish, try cutting into small squares, covering with the relish, stab with a toothpick, and serve as an appetizer.