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This dish is a bit of effort but definitely worth the work. Get the fish packets ready ahead of time and then at the last minute, all you have to do is cook the fish. Either let your guests cut the strings at the table with a nice pair of scissors or let them untie the strings bows.
2 pounds halibut fillets, 3/4-inch thick, skinned and boned1 lemon3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil1/4 cup yellow onion, minced3 cloves garlic, chopped1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs1 teaspoon grated lemon zest1/4 cup capers, chopped1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley1 egg, well beatenSalt and freshly ground black pepper6 bay leaves, halved
Vinaigrette4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil2 tablespoons lemon juice1 teaspoon grated lemon zest1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh lemon thyme or thyme1 1/2 pounds baby spinach leaves6 lemon wedges
Cut the fish into pieces 3-inches by 3-inches pieces. Cut each piece horizontally into 2 even slices, making 12 slices. Chop and reserve the trimmings for the stuffing. Place each slice of fish between waxed paper and pound gently with a meat mallet or a heavy pan until they are about 1/3 again as large.
With a vegetable peeler, peel 1 of the lemons to make 6 long pieces and reserve. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium low heat and cook the onions until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the trimmings and garlic and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the breadcrumbs and stir together over low heat for 30 seconds. Place the mixture in a bowl with the capers, Parmigiano Reggiano, 1 teaspoon of the grated lemon rind, 1 tablespoon parsley and the egg. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the 6 pieces of halved halibut on a work surface in a single layer. Remove the tops. Place one-sixth of the stuffing on top of each piece of fish. Top with the corresponding piece of fish. Place one bay leaf in the center of each piece of fish. Top each with one piece of lemon peel. Using cotton kitchen string, tie a piece of string around the center of each parcel, in a bow. Place the parcels on an oiled baking sheet.
To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, lemon juice, grated lemon zest and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat an oven to 375°F. Heat a large skillet. Add spinach and 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil. Toss the spinach just until wilted but still bright green, 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the fish until done, 20 to 25 minutes. To serve, place the spinach on the bottom of the plate. Top with one packet of fish. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette onto the fish and spinach, garnish with lemon wedges and serve immediately.
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