And look at me now! I was leery after smelling the fennel... so foreign, so unfamiliar. How on earth would this work with fish? Fabulously, that's how.
Braised Halibut Provençal
1 T extra virgin olive oil + 1 T butter
3 cloves garlic, pressed
¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
4 leeks, washed well and sliced
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 cup or so pureed tomatoes*
¼ cup vermouth or dry white wine
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon or so fresh herbs (I used basil and thyme)
1 lb halibut, cut into smallish pieces
salt and black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat the olive oil in a deep oven-proof skillet over medium heat, and sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes for 1 minute. Add the leeks and fennel; cook for 5 minutes.
Add the wine and then the pureed tomatoes, letting the wine sizzle off a bit first. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes until fennel is tender and liquid is slightly reduced. Remove from heat and stir in the olives and herbs.
Season the halibut with salt and pepper, and then arrange over hot tomato mixture in skillet. Bake in preheated oven for 17-20 minutes, until fish is cooked through. Serve over rice or couscous.
I had the Grill Geek do up some zucchini as well, simply because it needed to get eaten. Turns out to have been a wonderful, delicious match. The char on the zukes just really enhanced and danced along with the party of flavors in the fish dish.
* I confess to not measuring at all. I had a jar of leftover tomatoes and I simply used "the rest" of the vermouth (my favorite white wine to cook with). If you measure and it looks like you need more liquid, add more.