This is a perfect late spring meal, because it’s hearty, but lightened with spring vegetables and delicious halibut.
My favorite way to cook and eat halibut is grilled with a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper. It doesn’t need much adornment.
This meal works best with a grill cook and a stove-top cook, because you can’t leave your risotto unattended while it cooks, and you definitely don’t want it to sit around long after it’s done.
We have long winters here in Maine, so we have a small gas grill right outside the kitchen door that allows us to grill year-round. It also comes in handy for meals like this!
1 1/2 to 2 pounds halibut fillets
1 small sweet onion (or 1/2 leek*), chopped
1 cup arborio rice
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or 1/2 cup white wine and 3 1/2 cups broth)
2-4 strands saffron
1 cup sugar snap peas, chopped (or fresh peas, shelled)
1 bunch asparagus, stems trimmed (about a pound)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Optional garnishes: parsley and scallions
Season and oil your fish and asparagus so they are ready for the grill.
Put a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan on medium heat and add a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Once it’s warm, add your onions and cook until translucent. If the pan is dry, add more oil, then add the arborio. Stir and cook the rice until its edges are translucent. Toss in your saffron and some salt and pepper.
Add half a cup of chicken broth or the white wine. Cook, stirring, until the pan is almost dry. Adjust the heat so you’re cooking the risotto at a simmer.
Add the chicken broth half a cup at a time, stirring as it cooks. About 15 minutes into the risotto cooking, have the grill cook start the asparagus and halibut.
When the asparagus is off the grill, chop it into 1/2-inch pieces and add it and the peas to the risotto right after you add the last 1/2 cup of chicken broth.
When the risotto is close to the consistency you want, add the parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve in bowls with slices of the halibut on top. Garnish with chopped parsley and/or scallions and a hearty squeeze of fresh lemon. Serves four.
* If you use a leek, it’s easiest to clean it after it’s chopped. There are lots of places for dirt to hide in leek leaves, and you don’t want a gritty risotto.