This gorgeous dish from Bonnie Stern is a perfect way to usher in the warmer weather and to enjoy spring vegetables. Halibut is briefly marinated in oil, lemon zest and fresh thyme and then seared. Be careful not to overcook the fish. The halibut is served over a ragout of asparagus, peas, baby spinach, basil and green onions. Healthy, lovely to look at and delicious!

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

The only two things that may contain artificial ingredients are the stock and the butter. Look for an all-natural stock, such as Imagine brand, or use water. Your butter needs only one ingredient—cream. Try Gay Lea unsalted butter.

Lemon zest and fresh thyme for the marinade

Marinate halibut in olive oil, zest and thyme

Saute shallots

Lightly cook asparagus in stock

Add the baby spinach; it will cook down.... this

Meanwhile, sear the halibut

Halibut with spring ragout


1½ lbs boneless, skinless halibut fillets (about 1-inch thick)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp grated lemon peel
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or butter — divided
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
½ lb asparagus, trimmed, peeled 2-inch up stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock or water
1½ cups fresh or frozen peas
5 oz fresh baby spinach
2 tbsp torn basil leaves
2 green onions, sliced
2 tbsp butter


Drizzle halibut with olive oil and season with lemon peel, thyme, salt and pepper. Marinate in refrigerator until ready to cook. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil or butter (fish browns a bit better in butter) in a large nonstick skillet and cook over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes per side for 1-inch thick fillets.

Meanwhile, for the ragout, heat remaining oil or butter in a large deep skillet on medium heat and cook shallot gently about 3 minutes until lightly browned. Add asparagus and cook another minute. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Asparagus should be bright green. Add peas and cook one minute. Add spinach and turn spinach over with tongs until starting to wilt. Add basil, green onions and butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Be careful not to overcook — everything should look bright and taste very fresh.

Spoon ragout into shallow soup bowls with the juices and arrange fish on top. Makes 4-6 servings

From the April 21, 2012 National Post – Recipe by Bonnie Stern