It had been a little while since I hosted my last Sunday lunch. With New York being in full summer swing, the gorgeous weather outside has been less conducive to staying indoors and slaving over hot stoves!
But if course it wasn’t long until I wanted to have some friends over and started to think of a summer appropriate menu. While risotto may not count as much of a summer dish for most, I thought it would be the perfect accompaniment to the halibut dish I had come across. Besides I’ve been making risotto for years – I know it has a bad reputation as being a difficult dish to master but I’ve always found that as long as you give it the attention it deserves for the 20 or 30 minutes it takes to make, it’s actually very straight forward. I love making it while chatting with friends, slowly stirring it around while sipping on a glass of wine.
As for the fish, I was attracted to the use of the basil and garlic flavored compound butter that tops the halibut and even more so by sprinkling some ground almonds on it too. The combination of flavors was fresh and savory, the slight crunch of the almonds adding an interesting textural detail. I used this recipe but adjusted the cooking time – my halibut fillets were quite plump so they stayed in the oven for at least 15 minutes. I also made the basil compound butter a day ahead which I think really helps the flavors to develop.
With both the fish and the risotto being fairly rich, I decided to serve oven roasted vine tomatoes as an additional side to give the dish a bit of lightness and a real taste of summer. I simply drizzled olive oil on them and seasoned them well before roasting for about 40 minutes until the skin started to split.
For appetizers, I made a red snapper crudo with a hint of fresh red chili and lime zest. I followed instructions in this recipe but changed up the fish based on what was the freshest available fish that day at my fishmonger’s. I popped the fish in the freezer for about 10 minutes to make it easier to slice thinly.
I also made some curry spiked lamb meatballs that I served on top of a cauliflower purée with cilantro and mint – the combination of the earthy spices in the lamb (cayenne, garam masala, cumin and coriander) against the cooling and herby purée worked great and I think I will be experimenting with more types of meatballs in the future!