Halibut steaks are pan seared, covered with a pecan and parmesan crust, roasted until tender and flaky, and served over creamy sun dried tomato and spinach gnocchi.
Pan-Seared and Roasted Halibut
Many halibut recipes call for braising instead of pan roasting or sautéing because cooking halibut in liquid helps prevent it from drying out. The only problem with this technique is that braising doesn't allow you to get a nice brown crust on the outside of the halibut steak - an element I rather like.
The other challenge with cooking halibut is that you might find halibut steaks at your local market that are about 1 & ½ inches thick one day and about ¾ of an inch thick the next.
By pan-searing the steaks briefly before roasting them, you not only get a nice brown crust, you can adjust the oven roasting time according to how thick your steaks are.
The other advantage of pan-searing your halibut steaks before roasting them is that it allows you to get a nice brown crust on the steaks before covering them in a delicious pecans and parmesan crust.
If your steaks are less than an inch thick, you'll only need to roast them in the oven for about 6 minutes. If they are closer to 1 & ½ inches thick, you'll need closer to 10 minutes.
Whatever your options are at the market, try to select four 6-ounce steaks that are as close to the same size as possible so they all cook at the same rate.
Potato Gnocchi are a Delicious Culinary Contradiction
I don't know how they manage it, but the delicious little potato dumplings we call gnocchi are somehow both light and airy, AND dense and hearty all at the same time.
Homemade gnocchi isn't particularly difficult to make, but it is more time consuming than I feel most of us want for a weeknight (or weekend) meal. Thankfully, most supermarkets carry packages of already prepared gnocchi. 🙌
However, prepared gnocchi is usually sold in 1-pound packages, and 1 & ½ pound is really ideal for four generous main dish servings. So, what are you going to do with that extra ½ pound? I say, just throw it in.
Unless you have some hungry eaters at your table, cooking 2 pounds of gnocchi will render some leftover. This, in my opinion, is fantastic, because it reheats well and makes for a delicious lunch.
Options for lightening this dish up a bit
This is one of those dishes that is gorgeously rich, comforting, and oh-so-satisfying. However, there are times when we're looking for ways to cut down on things like butter and cream. So be it.
Thankfully, two simple modifications still produces a lovely, yet lighter, meal of halibut and gnocchi.
- Instead of preparing the pecan crust for the halibut steaks, dry roast some chopped pecans and sprinkle them over the top of the cooked steaks right before serving.
- Increase the amount of chicken broth to 1 ¼ cup and omit the cream and egg yolks in the sun dried tomato and spinach sauce. The sauce won't get as thick, but will still be delicious.
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Scroll down to rate this recipe and leave a comment, or take a picture and tag it @alittleandalot on Instagram.
- 8 ounces sun dried tomatoes packed in oil (*See note.)
- 3 tablespoon (60g) butter, melted
- ½ cup (2.2oz/ 65g) roughly chopped pecans
- 1 cup (3.3oz/ 89g) grated parmesan cheese, divided; + an additional ¼ cup (.8oz/ 22g) for sprinkling on the finished dish
- 4 teaspoon (4-5 cloves) minced garlic, divided
- ¼ cup (6.25g) roughly chopped fresh parsley, + an additional ¼ cup (6.25g) for garnish
- 2 lbs gnocchi (*See Note)
- ¾ cup (177ml) chicken broth
- ½ cup (118ml) heavy cream
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- salt and pepper
- 12 ounces fresh spinach leaves
- ½ cup (118ml) dry white wine
- Four 6-ounce halibut steaks, skin removed
- 1 large lemon
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C).
- Pour the sun dried tomatoes into a strainer set over a bowl so you can catch and reserve the oil. You want 4 tablespoons (59ml) of oil. If you don't have quite that much, add some extra virgin olive oil. Slice the tomatoes into long, thin strips and set aside.
- Add the melted butter, pecans, ½ cup (44g) parmesan cheese, and 2 teaspoon minced garlic to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Process until it forms a coarse paste. Set aside.
- Set a strainer in the sink and fill a large saucepan about ⅔ full with water and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Set it over high heat and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the gnocchi. When the gnocchi floats to the surface, pour the gnocchi into the strainer to drain. Set aside.
- Add the remaining ½ cup (44g) parmesan cheese, chicken broth, heavy cream, egg yolks, mustard, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to a small bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add 2 tablespoons (30ml) of the reserved sun dried tomato oil to a large heavy bottom sauce pan and set it over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the remaining 2 teaspoons of minced garlic, the sliced tomatoes, and the spinach. Cook, stirring constantly, until the spinach is wilted. Add the wine and cook until nearly all of the wine has evaporated.
- Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour in the chicken broth and cream mixture, bit by bit, stirring constantly so the egg yolks don't scramble. Set the pan back over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 4 minutes. Taste and add more salt if desired.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the gnocchi. Cover and keep warm while you prepare the halibut.
- Lay the halibut steaks out on a couple of paper towels and pat dry. Sprinkle generously on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat 2 tablespoons (30ml) of sun dried tomato oil in a large oven proof skillet set over medium high heat until it just begins to smoke. Add the halibut steaks to the hot oil and let cook without moving them for 4 minutes. Carefully lift up one of the steaks to see if the underside is brown. If it's brown, remove the pan from the heat and gently flip all the steaks over. Press the pecan mixture over the tops of the halibut steaks, smoothing it out to cover the top of each.
- Put the skillet into the preheated oven and let the fish cook for 6-10 minutes, until an instant read thermometer registers 140 degrees F (60 degrees C) when plunged into the center of one of the steaks. If the steaks are less than 1-inch thick, they should only take 6 minutes. If they are closer to 1 & ½-inches thick, they will take closer to 10 minutes, perhaps a bit longer. Check the temperature frequently and try not to overcook them.
- Scoop the gnocchi into a serving dish and top with the pecan crusted halibut steaks. Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over the steaks. Serve with an additional sprinkle of chopped parsley and parmesan cheese.
- You'll need a total of 4 tablespoons (60ml) of oil for this recipe. If you don't get 4 tablespoons of oil from your jar of sun dried tomatoes, add some extra virgin olive oil so that you have a total of 4 tablespoons of oil.
- 1 & ½ pounds of gnocchi is really the right amount for 4 servings. However, most of the time, gnocchi is sold in 1 pound packages, which really isn't quite enough for 4 full servings. So, I've opted to write the recipe for 2 pounds, knowing that you'll probably have some leftover. While halibut doesn't reheat very well, gnocchi does, and makes a nice lunch.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1104Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 312mgSodium: 1147mgCarbohydrates: 113gFiber: 14gSugar: 25gProtein: 71g