Seared Alaskan Halibut and Coucous wtih Citrusy Garam Masala Vinaigrette

In celebration of lobster and I purchasing our first home, "we got a hooouse, we got a hooouse" (you have to imagine me doing the cabbage patch to get the full effect) I thought I'd celebrate by posting one of my ALL-TIME favorite recipes (no time to cook, must go furniture shopping!!) This is perfect for a light, summer meal. Garam Masala is an ingredient I'd never used before, but now it is one of my favorite spices. I love ALL food that has lots of strong flavors and this is IT. It's similar to curry but kicked up about ten notches with a fragrant mix of nummy goodness, cumin, corianer, get the idea. The couscous in this recipe is amazing. All those aromatics sauteed together with the garam masala and vinaigrette just makes it all come together and it is numnumnum. The halibut is simply flavored with olive oil and S&P. You'd think just using S&P would make it bland, but the halibut is so clean and fresh that's all it really needs. When you get a good sear on the halibut, it's a nice contrast and balance to the bold flavors of the couscous.

Recipe and photo from this site.

Seared Alaskan Halibut and couscous salad – 4 servings

4 6oz alaskan halibut fillets
4 tbsp canola oil (I used EVOO)
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat a heavy-bottom skillet over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil to the pan. Season the halibut liberally with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Once the skillet is hot, place the fish into the oil serving-side down. Cook the alaskan halibut for about 5-6 minutes per side, until the fish is just cooked through. Remove the halibut from the heat and allow it to rest for a 5 minutes before serving.

Couscous Salad with Citrusy Garam Masala Vinaigrette
1 cup couscous
3 dried apricots, chopped
1/8 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1 cup boiling water, salted
1 small onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1/2 bulb fennel, diced
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the vinaigrette:
1 1/2 tbsp honey
juice and zest from 1 lime
juice and zest from 1 lemon
1 tbsp garam masala (homemade or store bought)
1/4 cup olive oil

Place the couscous, apricots, and cranberries into a heat safe mixing bowl, preferably metal. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the fruit and couscous. Seal the mixing bowl with plastic wrap to allow the couscous to cook and the fruit to plump. Allow the couscous to sit for twenty minutes, until all of the water is completely absorbed.

Preheat a pan to medium heat. Add 1 1/2 tbsp canola oil to the pan. Once the pan is hot add the onion, carrot, and fennel. Saute the veggies over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until tender, stirring occasionally.

While the couscous cooking and the veggies are sauteing make the vinaigrette. Add the honey, lemon and lime zest and juice, and garam masala to a mixing bowl. Whisk the ingredients together until thoroughly blended. Begin drizzling in the olive oil while continuing to whisk constantly to form an emulsified vinaigrette. Set the vinaigrette aside until the couscous is finished.

Once the couscous has absorbed all of the water, remove the plastic wrap. Fluff the couscous with a fork. Add the sauteed veggies, diced red pepper, mint leaves, toasted slivered almonds, and vinaigrette to the fluffed couscous. Toss the salad until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined and everything is coated with the vinaigrette. Taste the salad, then season as necessary with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve warm or chilled.