Pan-Seared Halibut, Stir-fry Asparagus and Pasta w/Squash (20 min. dinner)

Aunt Nana, Nanny, Mom, A. Margaret, Grandmom

“What’s That Smell?”

We have this wonderful little Asian Market in Ambler (across from Guiseppe’s pizza) where the variety of fish is expansive and the quality and freshness is incredible (Sunny’s).  My husband, Mike, gets all the fish for the Seven Fishes dinner from there.  He holds a fresh whole branzino right up to my nose and says “Smell it!”.  I take a whiff and say, “I don’t smell anything”, to which he replies, “That’s right, baby!!”.  apparently, the best sign of fresh fish is the smell, or lack there of.  Smell is a funny thing, although it’s a curse if you are italian.  My Aunt Nana (pronounced Nah-Nah) had a scent so strong, she made a bloodhound jealous.  Unfortunately, many of the women in my family were blessed with this gift/curse.  We would be sitting in church or out at a restaurant and my mother would literally and physically start gagging because someone with perfume walked by or a certain cleaning product was being used somewhere nearby.  I sometimes get sad thinking how far removed my daughter is from all the strong female role models that have passed;  my grandmothers, all my great-aunts and my mom.  I wonder how will my daughter ever realize how lucky she is today – my grandmother only went to school until eighth grade and the sky is the limit for my Mia.  Just when I feel that Mia’s genetic connection to these incredible women is as thin as a spider’s web, she turns to me last week in a restaurant and gags “Mommy, what’s that smell?  It’s giving me a headache!”.  I looked at her distraught face and thought, maybe she’s not as far removed as I thought.

This dinner takes less time to make than chicken nuggets and a box of mac n’ cheese.

Pan-Seared Halibut:  I bought a larger piece of Halibut and a small piece of Salmon because Mia said she learned to like it at school (I don’t like Salmon but don’t tell her that).

  • Pat your fish dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt/pepper and dash of sugar (this will help the fish brown nicely in the pan).
  • Brown both sides of the fish in a little olive oil in a non-stick pan.
  • Pop the whole pan in the oven for 5-10 more minutes to cook through.
  • Squirt fresh lemon on it or serve it on the side.


  • Pan fry asparagus in a pan with a little olive oil, salt/pepper, garlic, and ginger powder.
  • Toss until almost cooked through.  Cover and reduce heat until ready to serve.

Pasta with Squash:  When I am in a rush (Mac had practice at 6PM), I make a quick pasta side dish and throw whatever veggie I have on hand in there.

  • Cook pasta according to directions.  Throw your veggies (I used green and yellow squash) in the pasta water the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  • Drain and toss with olive oil (or butter), salt/pepper, parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice.

    A dash of salt, pepper and sugar

How Can the Kids Help?

  • Mia sprinkled the fish with salt, pepper and sugar
  • Add spices to the asparagus (watch out for the splashing oil when it’s frying)
  • Add salt to pasta water and help cut veggies for pasta (can use a butter knife for squash)
  • Test pasta and set the table
  • Fun Game for Dinner:  Close your eyes while someone feeds you a piece of green or yellow squash;  guess which color!

Did You Know?

  • Halibut has a life span of over 40 years or more – The largest Halibut caught was 459 pounds
  • Fish is high in protein, vitamins, minerals, and omega 3 fatty acids, and can reduce some problems associated with PMS, memory loss, cardiovascular functions, colon cancer, and stroke.

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