- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Fresh and simple is a theme that can make any meal taste like spring, even if the weather’s still frightful. Using fresh ingredients also often involves speedy cooking, just enough to present the good flavor at its best, as with the following easy recipes for a halibut and spinach supper.

A simple-meals feature by food writer Maria Helm Sinskey in the April issue of Organic Style includes these recipes, advice about other family-friendly menus and a comment on letting family help in the kitchen: If her two daughters have helped make a dish, she says, “they eat it with gusto.”

Halibut is available from Alaska almost year-round. “If you can’t find it, try Atlantic cod instead,” Miss Sinskey says. Bags of pre-washed baby spinach are handy for fast side dishes and salads.

She prepares the same dinner for everyone in her house, “with a few slight adjustments that transform PG-rated meals into fare for the G audience.”

Halibut with lemon-caper sauce

1½ pounds halibut fillets, cut into 8 pieces

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

½ cup all-purpose flour

4 to 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped shallots

¼ cup small capers, rinsed and drained

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Season halibut well on both sides with salt and pepper. Place flour in a pie plate. Place 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Dip four pieces of fish in flour and place in hot skillet. Cook, turning once, until fish is opaque and the edges are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a warm platter. Add more oil to skillet, if necessary, and repeat with remaining fish.

After fish is cooked, add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, shallots and capers to skillet. Saute 1 minute, until shallots are golden. Add lemon juice and zest and bring to a boil. Simmer 1 minute; add ¼ teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Remove from heat; swirl in butter and parsley. Spoon over fish and serve. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Spinach in brown butter

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound baby spinach

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat until it turns golden-brown, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, add spinach and toss with tongs to coat.

Return pan to heat and cook 2 minutes, tossing constantly, until spinach is just limp but still bright green. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve as a side dish or as a bed for the halibut.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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