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Contributing Chef Series–Grilled Halibut with Herb Salad and Meyer Lemon Green Olive Salsa, Suzanne Goin

by Karen on February 21st, 2011

My cookbook is a collaboration of talented people:  artists, designers, editors, celebrity chefs and excellent home cooks.

Each person played a critical role to bring you easy recipes that taste great and make living a gluten free life…..delicious.  The celebrity chefs I worked with for this book went the distance to help make it a success. Often that meant taking a recipe designed to feed 50 people and reworking it for the home cook.  Talented chefs want to please their customers and they are incredibly accommodating to those on special diets.  The best chefs love a challenge.

The nineteen chefs contributing to Cooking Gluten-Free!  are some of the best chefs in the country, many are award winning chefs but each one makes it their goal to serve every customer quality food.  This year we revist the chefs to see what they are doing today, a lot has happened since we put our timeless recipes in the book together for you.

This month we feature Suzanne Goin in our contributing chef series. She is indeed an award winning chef and one who demonstrated an innate ability in the kitchen early in her career.  Alice Waters noticed it right away when Suzanne worked for her at Chez Panisse restaurant. “She was a standout,” said Waters.  “We all knew immediately that one day she would have a restaurant of her own, and that other cooks would be coming to her for kitchen wisdom and a warm welcome.”

Suzanne went on to train under Alain Passard, Todd English, and Nancy Silverton.  She now owns three restaurants in Los Angeles with her business partner Caroline Styne:  Lucques, AOC, and Tavern. The restaurants have been featured in Bon Appetit, Gourmetmagazine and the Los Angeles Times. I found her when she was a Food and Wine magazine “Best New Chef of 1999”.

This past month, during the frenzied movie award season, Suzanne and her staff at Lucques Catering created the gorgeous feast for the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

This is somewhat fitting as Suzanne has won or been nominated for 6 James Beard Foundation awards, the culinary world’s highest honor. And in addition to her career accomplishments she is the mother of three young children.

It makes my head spin just thinking about her busy life!

For this blog post she kindly contributed a recipe from her latest book
Sunday Suppers at Lucques .

This past weekend we made Suzanne’s Grilled Halibut with Herb Salad and Meyer Lemon-Green Olive Salsa.

Sunny, fresh ingredients on a winter day.

Citrus and Herb Marinade (we used a 1 1/2 pound filet for 3 people)

While we were cooking we decided to make up a batch of cocktails from another celebrity chef feature: Kathy Casey’s Mandarin Rosemary Sparkle  and it really was a great way to celebrate the beautiful sunny day we had in Seattle.

Cocktail prep

The cocktail was also the perfect aperitif for Suzanne’s meal.  Beautiful cocktails are one of the most difficult things to photograph in a dark kitchen, especially after you have had one!  You will have to use your imagination or go to the Liquid Kitchen to see them.

My husband and 16-year old son got a head start on the meal before I made it to the table.  All I could hear from the dining room was “oh…wow… this is good” from both of them.  The variety of herbal flavors married together in the dish give your palate a moment of amazement…no kidding!

An online interview quotes Suzanne as saying “I try to think of things that you can eat sort of delicately and have lots of different flavors,” and this recipe embodies exactly that—layers of flavors.  The olive salsa with Meyer lemons was a terrific way to top off the herb marinated halibut that we grilled over hot coals. Plan ahead to serve this meal for guests, it is easy to prepare but you will have to seek out a few specialty ingredients.

halibut off the grill

The recipe calls for lucques olives but what I really used was something else altogether due to my desire to make the dish right away, my impatience.  Lucques olives can be hard to find at times. They come from the Languedoc Roussillon area in the south of France and it is a real treat when they are available here—-scout them out in specialty markets and buy them!  I am now on a quest for them, scrolling around the internet  I found David Lebovitz . He  has a source just down the street from his house, one of the benefits of living in Paris…lucky!   I found a close alternative in the Estancia Lucia Olives of Argentina at (which is right down the street from me…) Since these olives are in vinegar I rinsed them off before using them, fortunately the gal at ChefShop knew a  lot about lucques olives (her favorite) and felt these would be a close alternative.

Look at the David Lebovitz site to see these brilliant green olives and then seek some out yourself.

I also have a ton of hand-harvested sea salt from the Island of Carmen on the Sea of Cortez not far from Loreto in Baja, Mexico so I used that instead of the fleur de sel. You should try the fleur de sel, it is widely available in good markets (and also on

For a steady supply of the herbs in the recipe I am now motivated to grow some myself in a little kitchen pot of herbs.  I hope you enjoy it too and if you are in the Los Angeles area visit one of Suzanne’s restaurants…. a special treat for your palate.

For more exploration of “flavor sensations” get her Sunday Suppers book.

Grilled Halibut with Herb Salad and Meyer Lemon Green Olive Salad- Suzanne Goin

Don’t worry, the long ingredient list is almost all herbs….it is easy!


grilled halibut with herb salad and meyer lemon green olive salsa

This invigorating dish is a refreshing change from the hearty comfort foods of winter. The herbs here aren’t relegated to the sidelines; tossed with arugula, they become the main attractions of this bright salad. Meyer lemons are diced with their peels on and combined with green olives, champagne vinegar, honey, and olive oil for a bracing sweet-tart salsa to accompany the grilled halibut.

NOTE:  The halibut needs to be seasoned with lemon and herbs at least 4 hours ahead of time. You can pick the herbs and make the salsa a few hours ahead.

6 fillets Alaskan halibut, 5 to 6 ounces each
1 Meyer lemon, zested
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon sliced flat-leaf parsley,
Plus ½ cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 small fennel bulb, sliced
½ teaspoon fleur de sel
3 tablespoons super-good extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups small arugula or small watercress sprigs
¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves
¼ cup chervil sprigs
¼ cup ½-inch-snipped chives
¼ cup small mint leaves
¼ cup small opal and green basil leaves
Meyer lemon–green olive salsa (recipe follows)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season the fish with the lemon zest, thyme, and sliced parsley. Cover, and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Remove the fish from the refrigerator 15 minutes before cooking to let it come to room temperature.

Light the grill 30 to 40 minutes before you’re ready to cook. Just before you grill the fish, toss the sliced fennel with the fleur de sel, and 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice in a large bowl.

When the coals are broken down, red, and glowing, brush the fish with the regular extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the fish on the grill, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, rotating the fish once, until it’s nicely colored on the first side. Turn the fish over, and cook a few more minutes, until it’s almost cooked through. Be careful not to overcook the fish. When it’s done, it will begin to flake and separate a little, but the center will still be slightly translucent. Remember, the halibut will continue to cook a bit more once you take it off the grill.

While the fish is cooking, very gently toss the arugula and herbs with the fennel. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and taste. Arrange the salad on a large platter, place the fish on top, and spoon some of the Meyer lemon–green olive salsa over the halibut.

Serve the remaining salsa on the side.

meyer lemon–green olive salsa

2 tablespoons finely diced shallot

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon champagne vinegar

2 Meyer lemons

1 teaspoon honey

¾ cup pitted Lucques olives, chopped

2 tablespoons sliced flat-leaf parsley

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the shallot, champagne vinegar, and a healthy pinch of salt in a small bowl, and let sit 5 minutes.

Slice the stem and blossom ends from the Meyer lemons. Stand the lemons on one end, and cut them vertically into 1/8-inch slices.

Stack the slices in small piles on a cutting board, and cut them lengthwise into 1/8 -inch-thick matchsticks. Line up the matchsticks,and cut them into 1/8 -inch cubes.

Add the diced lemon to the shallot. Stir in the honey, olives,parsley, a pinch of pepper, and the olive oil. Taste for balance and seasoning.

Recipe provided with permission from Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques.


One Comment
  1. carmen Robertson permalink

    mom this looks absolutely delicious! i cant wait to come home and eat a great, healthy, gluten-free home cooked meal!

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