Halibut in zimino

We have never really been avid fish eaters around here. Until recently.

Everyone knows that fish is good for you, the fatty omega-3 rich salmon, sardines and mackerel, and the protein rich white fish like halibut. It is an inherent part of the Mediterranean diet and it should be part of ours, at least, on a more regular basis. This is why I have been searching for original and tasty ways to prepare fish, and the recipes in the blog are some of our favourites.

Zimino is a traditional italian vegetable ”sauce”, which pairs well with salt cod, or baccalà. It is delicious with any other white fish, however. To get the same saltiness of the salt cod, just use the method described below. The result is a well seasoned fish, with a firm texture and a bit of a bite.

Zimino is also delicious on its own, as a side dish. To make it vegetarian, replace the fish with pan-seared tofu, tempeh or even potato gnocchi. If you do this, feel free to add parmesan or romano cheese to the vegetables. The recipe below is for four people.

Halibut in a vegetable sauce

For the Zimino:

28 g (1 oz) dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 cup olive oil
1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves and stems
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
3 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 sprigs parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

For the fish:

1 halibut fillet per person
enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a skillet
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon fine sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish


1. Mix the salt, sugar and black pepper and rub all over the fish fillets. Store in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

2. When you are ready to cook the fish, take it out of the refrigerator and rinse it well under cold water. Pat it dry with paper towels and leave it at room temperature while you are cooking the sauce.

3. Preheat the oven to 400 °F.

4. Soak the mushrooms in 1 cup hot water for 20 to 30 minutes.

5. Wash the Swiss chard and separate the stems from the leaves. Set aside.

6. In a skillet over medium-low heat, cook the onion, garlic, carrot, Swiss chard stems and celery in the olive oil until soft, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

7. Take the mushrooms and squeeze out the excess moisture, and chop finely. Add them to the vegetables, along with the tomatoes and the Swiss chard leaves. Reserve the mushroom soaking liquid.

8. Cook over low heat, stirring often, for 30 more minutes, adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of mushroom soaking liquid every five or seven minutes to keep the vegetables moist.

9. Add the parsley, taste and correct seasonings. Keep warm.

10. In another skillet, over medium-high heat, cook the fish in olive oil for two minutes on one side, then flip them over and transfer immediately to the oven, and cook for 7 or 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.

11. Serve the fish immediately over the vegetables on warm plates. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil on the fish and vegetables.

Halibut in zimino

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