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pan-seared halibut with quinoa on a plate

Crispy Pan-Seared Halibut with Tomato Basil Quinoa

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: serves 2
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: American


Full of fresh and seasonal flavors, this crispy pan-seared halibut with tomato basil quinoa is a healthy and naturally gluten free meal that’s easy, quick, and satisfies.


  • two 8-ounce halibut filets, about 2 inches thick (anywhere around that size is great)
  • 1/2 cup (85g) rinsed uncooked quinoa*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) grapeseed or vegetable oil*
  • 2 cups (298g) baby tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup (50g) pitted kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup (36g) minced shallots*
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil
  • squeeze of lemon juice + lemon slices for serving


  1. Blot the halibut filets with paper towels to remove as much excess moisture as you can. Set aside.
  2. Boil 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Add the uncooked quinoa and reduce the heat to medium, stirring occasionally. The quinoa will cook and soak up all the water in about 10 minutes. Set cooked quinoa aside.
  3. Season both sides of the halibut filets with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Once the oil is very hot and begins to simmer, carefully add each filet to the pan skin-side-up. Be VERY careful as the oil can splatter. Press down on the fish for a few seconds with a spatula to create direct contact with the oil.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook the halibut, without moving it, until it is golden brown on the bottom edges, about 5 minutes. Carefully flip and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 140°F (60°C), about 4 minutes. Turn off the heat, transfer the fish to a paper-towel lined plate to soak up the excess oil. Drain some of the oil from the skillet, saving about 1-2 Tablespoons inside the skillet for the quinoa mixture.
  5. Heat the skillet over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, olives, shallots, garlic, red wine vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. (I combined all of this together before adding to the skillet, but adding it all directly to the pan works too!) Stir and cook until the tomatoes begin to release some of their juices, about 4 minutes. Add the cooked quinoa, parsley, and basil. Mix to combine. Place the cooked fish on top, squeeze a little lemon juice over everything, turn off the heat, and serve with lemon slices.
  6. Cover any leftovers and store in the refrigerator for a few days. Reheat as desired.


  1. Quinoa: I used quinoa in this recipe, but Jessica’s original recipe calls for the same amount of couscous. Cook it according to box directions and instead of the cooked quinoa, add the cooked couscous to the pan in step 5.
  2. Oil: Jessica does not suggest using olive oil instead of grapeseed or vegetable oil since its smoke point isn’t as high and therefore isn’t as safe to use.
  3. Olives: Not a fan of olives? You can leave them out or replace with more tomatoes. Chickpeas would be good too!
  4. Shallots: I forgot shallots at the store, so I subbed in 2 Tablespoons of green onion. I added the green onion when I stirred in the parsley and basil.
  5. Recipe reprinted with permission from Easy Culinary Science for Better Cooking by Jessica Gavin