Chef Cat Cora is the first and only female Iron Chef on "Iron Chef America," the co-host of "Around the World in 80 Plates," and author of the cookbooks "Cooking from the Hip," "Cat Cora's Classics with a Twist," "Cat Cora's Kitchen" and the children's book "A Suitcase Surprise for Mommy." Cat showed us how to make a light and fresh meal for those looking for a healthy start to the New Year.
HALIBUT WITH PEPITAS, CAPERS, CHERRY TOMATOES, AND BASIL
This is a restaurant-style dish that boasts a lot of flavor thanks to a tomato-basil sauce with bursts of capers and the crunch of toasted pepitas.
2 tablespoons pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
4 6-ounce halibut fillets
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/ 2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup vegetable stock
1½ tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
½ cup halved cherry tomatoes (quartered if they're big)
¼ cup torn fresh basil, plus a handful of small leaves for garnish
In a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast the pepitas lightly. Don't allow them to brown – as soon as you begin to smell them, remove the pan from the heat and transfer pepitas to a large plate. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Sprinkle the halibut on both sides with 1 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet with an ovenproof handle over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer but is not smoking. Place the fillets skin side up in the hot oil and sear until the fish begins to turn color, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the fillets and add the lemon juice and capers to the pan. Add stock and tomatoes and simmer until the tomatoes release some juices, about 1 minute.
Place the pan in the oven until the fish is cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Baste the fish with some of the juices and transfer to serving plates. Add the ¼ cup torn basil, pepitas, and the remaining teaspoon of salt to the pan juices and stir until the basil is slightly wilted. Spoon the mixture over the fish, garnish with fresh basil leaves, and serve.
VEGAN AVOCADO AND PAPAYA SALAD
There's nothing easier, nothing better, especially for vegans, though my carnivorous friends love it too.
3 large avocados
1 lime, juiced (reserve 2 teaspoons)
1 papaya, peeled, seeds scooped out, and cut into ½ -inch dice
1 tablespoon red onion, minced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Halve and pit 2 of the avocados and peel. Place 1 avocado half on each plate and give each a squeeze of lime juice.
Dice the remaining avocado into a medium bowl, drizzle with the reserved 2 teaspoons lime juice, and toss very gently. Add the papaya, red onion, cilantro, and salt. Spoon into the avocado halves and serve.
FRESH FRUIT AMBROSIA WITH SHAVED COCONUT AND AGAVE YOGURT
Serves 6 to 8
1 cup grapefruit sections segments, membranes removed
3½ cups pineapple (1 medium pineapple), peeled, cored, and cut into medium dice
1 cup blueberries
1 cup mango, diced small
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup shaved natural coconut, toasted
¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1 cup low fat Greek yogurt
¼ cup agave syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, mix the grapefruit segments, pineapple, blueberries and mango with the lemon juice, cover, and chill for 1 hour.
To make the Honey Cream: In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, whip together the yogurt, agave, and vanilla until the mixture forms soft peaks, 1 to 2 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, place an equal amount of fruit in individual dessert glasses or bowls, leaving behind most of the fruit juice. Top with honey cream, toasted coconut, and walnuts and serve.