Halibut and Corn Salad with a “Broken” Tomato Vinaigrette
Published by Chronicle
This is another of those dishes built of parts that can be enjoyed separately or together: grilled fish, a vegetable salad, and the big accent flavor of a vinaigrette made from reduced fresh tomato juice and olive oil. In about 1992, we began experimenting to create the intensely flavored dressing we call “broken” vinaigrettes, which take their name from the fact that they are purposely not emulsified. Instead, we lightly shake reduced fruit or vegetable juice with a complementary flavored oil. The colored drops of juice glisten within the olive oil. When they are shaken onto a salad or a plate, they create a striking pattern of contrasting colors and set up the same vibrant contrast in your mouth. Try this tomato vinaigrette on meat or sliced tomatoes. You can make broken vinaigrettes with beets and carrots by following the same process outlined here for tomatoes.
You may vary the flavor of your tomato vinaigrette by using flavored oil.
Prosciutto Bits (Makes about 1/2 cup)
1/2 pound prosciutto, finely diced (about 1 generous cup)
1 1/4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Put the prosciutto and olive oil in a small nontick skillet over medium heat. Cook slowly over medium to medium-low heat, tossing nd stirring occasionally, until the prosciutto is very crispy, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Reserve the fat, if desired. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or store in the freezer for up to several months. Before using, recrisp, if necessary, in a skillet over medium heat or in a 300F toaster oven.
Total Timeunder 1 hour
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Formal Dinner Party
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationmain course
Taste and Texturecrisp, garlicky, herby, savory, sweet, tangy
- 3 large vine-ripened tomatoes
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 large ears corn, shucked
- 1 cup shelled lima beans, fava beans, or other fresh shelling beans
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
- ¼ cup Prosciutto Bits (see Notes), recrisped or about 4 slices bacon, cooked until very crisp, well drained, and minced
- 4 halibut fillets, about 5 ounces each, or other firm-fleshed, meaty fish such as swordfish
Core the tomatoes, cut into pieces, and place in a blender. Blend until pureed. Strain through a sieve into a bowl. You should have about 1½ cups purée.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a nonreactive medium saucepan until hot. Add the garlic and sauté briefly until light brown. Add the tomato puree and bring to a boil. Simmer gently about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Discard the solids.
Rinse out the saucepan, return the tomato juice to the pan, and bring to a boil. Simmer and strain twice more until the tomato juice is as thick as heavy cream, about 15 minutes total cooking time. Be sure to lower the heat as the mixture thickens to prevent scorching. You should have about ¼ cup of very smooth tomato juice. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and taste for salt and pepper.
Pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil into a small, clean glass bottle with a stopper and swirl to coat the inside. Strain the tomato juice into the bottle. Let it cool to room temperature. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Do not shake or mix!
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Add the corn and cook just until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove and set aside. Cook the beans in the same water just until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain. If using favas, peel them. When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cobs. Toss together in a bowl.
In a clean jar with a lid, shake together the vinegar, tarragon, 3 tablespoons of the prosciutto bits, and 6 tablespoons of the olive oil. Pour enough of the dressing onto the corn and beans to coat, toss well, and taste for seasoning. Adjust with salt, pepper, and more dressing as necessary. Set aside to marinate for about 15 minutes.
Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the fish and cook until brown on the first side, about 3 minutes. Turn and continue to cook until opaque throughout, about 3 minutes longer. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
When ready to serve, pile the corn mixture on a platter or divide among 4 large plates. Arrange the fish on top of the salads. Shake the tomato vinaigrette bottle gently. You do not want the mixture to emulsify, but to have separate droplets suspended within the oil.
Spoon or shake about 1 tablespoon of the “broken” tomato vinaigrette on each piece of halibut and then drizzle or shake more tomato vinaigrette around the edges of the platter or plates. Garnish with the remaining prosciutto bits.
1999 Michael Chiarello