Pan-Roasted Pancetta-Wrapped Halibut with Wilted Escarole, White Beans & Pesto

Source: Steve Walker, Rose Pistola

Recipe Type: | Seasons: ,

This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA’s Market to Table program on September 19, 2015.

Serves 2


2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (you can substitute up to half the basil leaves with baby spinach)
⅓ cup pine nuts (substitute chopped walnuts, if desired)
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 3 teaspoons)
½ cup (about 2 ounces) freshly grated Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup olive oil, plus more for garnish
2 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon red chile flakes (optional)
1 large head escarole (1-1½ pounds) or substitute spinach
4 cups cooked or canned white beans (or 2 15-ounce cans)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon champagne vinegar

2 8-ounce halibut fillets (make sure they are fresh and not bruised)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces pancetta, sliced (substitute bacon or prosciutto if desired)
2 tablespoons olive oil


To make the pesto: Place the basil leaves and pine nuts (or chopped walnuts) in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times. Add the garlic and cheese and pulse several more times. Scrape down the sides of the processor with a rubber spatula. While the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Adding the olive oil slowly, while the processor is running, will help emulsify the sauce and keep the olive oil from separating. Stop the processor occasionally to scrape down the inside of the processor. When the mixture is smooth, stir in salt and pepper to taste and set aside. This recipe will make more pesto than you need for the halibut.

To make the escarole: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Peel and slice the garlic. Add to the skillet, along with the chile flakes (if desired). Cook until the garlic flavors the oil but doesn’t brown. Trim and chop the escarole. Add it to the skillet and raise the heat to medium. Cook, tossing and stirring occasionally, until it has wilted, about 4 or 5 minutes. When the escarole is mostly wilted, stir in the beans, season with salt and pepper, add the butter and vinegar, and cover the skillet. Lower the heat to low and cook until the beans are heated through.

To make the halibut: While the escarole is cooking, preheat the oven to 350°F. Season each halibut lightly with pepper. Wrap each fillet with pancetta. In an oven-safe sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until it shimmers. Add the halibut to the pan and sear on one side before flipping over. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Do not overcook it; better to undercook it and let it rest after you remove it from the oven.

To finish the dish: Place ½ of the escarole and bean mixture on each plate. Place the halibut on top of the escarole. Drizzle the pesto over the halibut. Serve immediately.

Photo by Megan Liamos.

Farmers Market Ingredients