Ask A Chef

by Clorissa Comer

Just because most of us college students cannot afford to dine at expensive restaurants, we shouldn’t have to lower our standards for our palettes. With each installment of “Ask a Chef,” you can look forward to easy-to-make, restaurant quality meals at home!

This week’s chef is Derek Rowe, the executive chef at Harvest Restaurant located on the Capitol Square. As their website states, “Harvest takes seriously its obligation to [its] customers of providing the best each season has to offer.”

This spring’s menu will feature the seasonal braised Halibut with olive tapenade in tomato and fennel broth. The following simple, straightforward recipe should provide a quick and delicious dish to recreate at home. All ingredients are available at Fresh Madison Market (substituting Halibut with the available Day Boat New England Cod).


Braised Halibut with olive tapenade in tomato and fennel

  • Tomato and fennel broth
  • 1 Spanish onion, sliced ($1.29)
  • 1 bulb fennel, sliced ($3.99)
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced ($0.49)**
  • 1/4 cup olive oil ($5.19)**
  • 28 oz can of peeled roma tomatoes ($2.29)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes ($0.99)**
  • Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil over medium heat, adding fennel, onion, garlic, chili and a pinch of salt. Cook until the vegetables have softened (approximately 20 minutes). Add the canned tomatoes and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Puree the tomato sauce in a blender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Olive Tapenade


  • 1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and chopped ($0.99)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced**
  • 1/2 tsp crushed chili flakes**
  • 1 T red wine vinegar ($2.59)**
  • 2 T minced red onion ($1.29)**
  • 2 T chopped parsley ($2.69)**
  • 3 T olive oil**

Combine all ingredients.

  • Day Boat New England Cod (substituted for Halibut)
  • 6 oz piece of New England Cod (about $4.00)
  • 4 oz white wine ($12.99)**
  • 4 oz tomato fennel broth
  • 1 T olive tapenade
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Spread a tablespoon of olive tapenade on top of the cod. In a small sauté pan heat the tomato broth and the white wine to just a boil. Gently add the fish to the pan, cover, and place the pan in the oven. Cook approximately 6 minutes—more or less depending on the size of the fish. Serve the fish over rice or spinach, using the remaining sauce from the pan.



*Prices of ingredients in parentheses may vary depending on brands.

**Some ingredients bought are in a larger quantity than called for, and the extra can be saved for later use.