my fishing cape cod logo

Lemon Basil Halibut with Orzo & Asparagus

Lauren Collins

There comes a time when the same old boring way of preparing fish just get's old, right?

You still want to make a simple fish dish, but it just needs a little more jazziness and pep.  And maybe some pasta, because who doesn't love pasta.  

Today's recipe takes the usual lemon and butter idea to a whole new level, with a tangy lemon basil sauce, served with twice cooked orzo and asparagus.


If there is one item that Ryan requests the most for fishing trips, it would be orzo pasta.  We went through a big orzo pasta salad phase last summer, and you'd think by this point we would both be sick of it, but we are absolutely not!

The key to this orzo is to cook it in boiling water and drain it as usual, but then add it into the pan while you're sautéing the asparagus, almost like a fried rice.  It makes the orzo a little toasty and chewy, absorbing the flavors from the pan juices at the same time, making it super flavorful.  

Prepare Your Fish the Right Way

In order to get that really beautiful sear you see in restaurants, you want to be sure to pat the fish dry with a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture first, then salt and pepper both sides before placing it carefully into a preheated pan, then don't touch it until you're ready to flip it.

This is especially important for preparing scallops, but goes for all fish as well.  It allows to the fish to cook evenly and give it that nice browned look, also helping to keep the filet together and not fall apart.  

I used butter in this recipe to pan sear the fish, but regardless of what kind of fat you're using to cook with, make sure your pan is preheated so when you drop the filets down, you immediately start to hear that sizzle.  

The Ingredients

As complicated as this recipe sounds, there's really only a few ingredients needed and chances are you probably have most of them already.

Start with picking up the freshest, greenest basil you can find, along with a head of garlic and one lemon.

You'll also need a box of orzo (not pictured) and one bunch of asparagus spears.

Asparagus can have a tough, woody end to them, which you'll want to remove.  My trick to removing the woody stems is to hold the asparagus spear with one hand in the middle of the spear, then with the other hand, snap the bottom off.  Sometimes half of the spear will snap off and other times just the bottom, but by doing this, you end up removing the whole woody end of the asparagus.  If you are using thinner spears, you won't need to do this step.

Along with butter, garlic, lemon, salt and pepper, I use one last little flavor booster for this recipe which are called capers.

Capers are the unopened flower buds from a plant native to the Mediterranean, and are generally seen in stores pickled.  They have a very briny, salty taste to them, and a little goes a long way.  You see them a lot of times in picattas or Mediterranean fish and pasta dishes.  I like to add just a tablespoon of them in with the orzo and asparagus while they sauté to give the dish little extra boost of flavor.

The Recipe

You can click here to print the recipe.

This recipe is intended to serve two people, with leftover sauce and orzo to enjoy for lunch the next day.  This recipe took me 45 minutes, however you can make the orzo up to 24 hours ahead of time and keep it in the fridge to bring the cooking time down.


What do you think?

Let me know by commenting below.

  1. Looks delicious!

    Thank you for the great recipe.


    1. Thank you so much Tad!


Leave a Comment