Budget-friendly cabs with halibut, peppers and olive tapenade

Budget-friendly cabs with halibut, peppers and olive tapenade

Joel Gott 815, 2018 California Cabernet Sauvignon ($ 18), our wine of the week, will delight both fans of the black and budget-conscious wine lovers. This wine, which is elegant, accessible and beautifully balanced, stays among much more expensive wines. It delivers much more than the price suggests.

Fruit flavors suggest black fruit, especially Bing cherries, black plum and black raspberries. There is a subtle undercurrent of spice that might make you think of Szechuan peppercorns and just a whispered caramel.

Light acid brings all the flavors together and keeps them in check so no single quality darkens another, as sometimes happens with cheap red wines.

Many foods will flatter this wine. You will enjoy it with a classic American hamburger or bacon cheeseburger. It is an excellent accompaniment to pasta fagioli and is a natural along with spaghetti Bolognese. Braised sausages with polenta and spinach, risotto with chicken livers and grilled tofu teriyaki encourage the wine to blossom. Skirt steak tacos with cabbage salsa make up an unusual and unusually delicious composition.

This wine is particularly compatible with naturally concentrated flavors, such as roasted sweet peppers and black olives, which I combine with sautéed halibut, always a good match with a suave cabernet.

Halibut fillet with roasted sweet peppers & black olive tapenade

Serves 2, easily doubled

10 to 12 ounce halibut fillet, in 2 pieces

Kosher salt

Black pepper in a mill

1 large red pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

2 tablespoons commercial or homemade black olive tapenade

Place the halibut on a work surface and season it all with salt and pepper. Set aside cards.

Heat the skin of the pepper over an open fire or hot electric burner, let it cool and peel the skin. Cut out the stem and seed core and cut the pepper into medium julienne.

Pour the olive oil into a heavy sauté pan and set it over medium heat, add the garlic and let it simmer in the oil for about 1 minute. Transfer it to a work surface.

Add the fillets, cook for 5 minutes, turn and fry for 5 minutes more or a little less for fillets that are quite thin.

Work quickly, push the fillets to the side of the pan, add the julienned peppers and heat through.

Remove the pan from the heat. Use a pair of tongs to transfer the peppers to individual plates. Finely chop the garlic clove, spread it on the peppers and top with a fillet.

Pour tapenade over the fillet and enjoy immediately.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “San Francisco Seafood.” Send her an email at michele@micheleannajordan.com.

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