Pan~Seared Halibut & Creamy Sorrel Sauce


Pan~Seared Halibut  |  Steamed Baby Potatoes  |  Creamy Sorrel Sauce  |  Sautéed Purple Asparagus

Intro Collage


“Because its tartness is so pronounced, sorrel is good at brightening foods like potatoes, oily fish, eggs, and grains.  Sliver a few leaves into a salad and the palate is given a nudge.  Cream and sorrel are divine together, so you might combine them in a sauce, a soup, or a savory custard…No matter how much you use, sorrel cooks down to a shadow of its former self, but the more you use, the more you’ll see and taste it.  Its visuals aren’t great - it turns a drab shade of green when cooked - but don’t let that bother you.  Its bright flavor counteracts its dreary appearance.”    ~ Deborah Madison, Vegetable Literacy

The foundation for this dinner rests with the sauce.  Flipping through the pages of Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy a few weeks ago, trying to find a sauce for some small spring potatoes I was serving with our Easter lamb, I followed a trail to the chapter entitled  “The Knotweed Family:  Three Strong Personalities”.  There I was introduced to sorrel, a plant with leafy greens and a bright, tart flavor, and a suggested pairing with steamed young potatoes had me sold.  Taking a risk with an unknown food with such a “strong personality” paid off…the “sharp and sultry” sauce proved a good companion to the soft potatoes as well as the hearty flavor of the lamb.  That simple little sauce, featuring those bold green leaves, tied all the flavors on our holiday dinner plates together and became a favorite of all the guests gathered at the table.

Pairing this sauce with tender young potatoes makes a wonderful alternative to heavier mashed potatoes.  I have made a variation of this sauce using some baby spinach, when I couldn’t get my hands on fresh sorrel, and a squeeze of fresh lemon and it was very, very good with a beautiful green color {the spinach does not brown the way sorrel does when it is cooked}.  But for this evening’s dinner, I went with the original sauce, thanks to a hearty supply of sorrel at the farmers’ market…


With only four basic ingredients:  sorrel leaves {washed & stems removed}, butter, shallot & cream, the sauce comes together quickly and can me made ahead and gently warmed before serving.

Sorrel Sauce Collage

Creamy Sorrel Sauce
A simple & creamy sauce featuring the bright, bold flavor of sorrel.
  1. 4 large bunches of fresh sorrel {4-5 cups}
  2. 1 tablespoon butter
  3. 1 shallot, peeled & finely chopped
  4. 1 cup heavy cream
  5. Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
  1. Clean the sorrel leaves by submerging in a bowl {or small sink} of cold water and swishing around a bit with your hands, allowing and dirt & debris to sink to the bottom. Remove the leaves but do not dry. Peel the leaves away from the stems and set aside, discarding the stems.
  2. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium~low heat. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the sorrel leaves and cook, string occasionally, until they wilt, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the cream and bring to a gentle simmer, season with salt & pepper and remove from the heat to prevent the cream from thickening. Transfer the sauce to a food processor and puree until smooth. Serve warm.
  1. Makes about 1 cup
Adapted from Deborah Madison's, Vegetable Literacy

Once the sauce was prepared, I washed some baby fingerling potatoes…


Sliced them in half and placed them in a steamer basket over a saucepan of boiling water and let them steam for about 20-30 minutes until tender.  While the potatoes cooked, purple asparagus was washed and the stems peeled with a vegetable peeler before going into a skillet of hot olive oil for a quick pan~sear until tender…

Asparagus Collage

When the asparagus was finished, I removed the spears to a hot baking dish to keep warm for a few minutes until ready to serve.  The skinless halibut fillets were then brushed with a bit of olive oil and seasoned all over with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  I added a tablespoon of butter to the hot skillet {in which the asparagus had been cooked} and when it had melted I added the fish fillets.  The halibut was cooked for about 2-3 minutes per side until the flesh became opaque throughout and easily flaked with a fork {timing will depend on the thickness of your fillets}.  The pan was then removed from the heat and the fish was finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

A halibut fillet, a spoonful of potatoes, a spear or two of asparagus and a dollop of Creamy Sorrel Sauce filled each plate and was a lovely dinner for a very warm spring evening…


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