Halibut en Cartoccio with Artichoke and Asparagus

By Carmen Peirano & Eric Ferguson of Nick’s Italian Café

“Nothing signals the onset of spring like steamed halibut, artichokes and asparagus. The delicate flavors combined with a hint of lemon, thyme and a good olive oil make this a truly special way to enjoy the bounties of the season.” — Carmen Peirano

1 pound fresh halibut (skin off), cut into 4-ounce portions
¼ cup white wine
4 large thyme sprigs
4 4-inch strips of lemon peel
2 baby artichokes peeled down to the hearts
2 ounces pancetta, cut into thin strips
10 asparagus spears
* olive oil
* salt, to taste
* fresh ground black pepper, to taste
* parchment paper

1. Preheat oven to 475°F. 2. Prepare artichokes by removing outer leaves, paring stem, quartering lengthwise and removing thistle. Cut the asparagus on a sharp bias, ¼-inch thin. Using a peeler, shave four pieces lemon zest (avoid the white pith.). 3. Fold parchment in half and arrange the artichoke, pancetta and asparagus as a bed for the halibut. Drizzle white wine over the prepared bed, and then place the halibut on top. Season with salt and pepper. Place a sprig of thyme and slice of lemon peel on top of each piece of halibut and drizzle with olive oil. 4. Fold a second piece of parchment in half and place it over the first parchment lining up the edges. Fold both the top and bottom parchments together, forming a sealed “bag” all the way around. 5. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. The parchment should be golden brown and puffed up with steam. Remove from the oven and carefully place on a serving tray. With scissors cut an X from corner to corner. Pull each flap back and finish with more olive oil and sea salt. Serves 4 (as a substantial first course or light entrée).

Wine Suggestion: 2007 Adelsheim Auxerrois

Nick’s Italian Café

Located in historic downtown McMinnville, Nick’s Italian Café has been serving fresh Northern Italian fare for over 30 years and is considered an Oregon culinary institution.

In 2007, founder and chef Nick Peirano handed over his apron to his daughter, Carmen Peirano, and her husband, Eric Ferguson. Following their cooking experiences at Quince in San Francisco, Carmen and Eric spent six months cooking in Italy to prepare them for taking over the restaurant’s chef responsibilities.

A favorite hangout for local winemakers, Nick’s grew up with the wine industry, and celebrates that fact with an impressive, intimate Willamette Valley wine list. Nick’s Italian Café serves a five-course, price-fixed dinner, although you are always welcome to choose fewer courses à la carte.

Recently, Nick’s turned the back room into a cozy bar, serving cocktails, wine and a bar menu. They also built a wood-fired oven that has given the menu even more dimension, including the addition of a fabulous lunch service, showcasing wood-fired pizzas, salads and sandwiches.

Nick’s is located at 521 N.E. Third Street, McMinnville. For more information, including hours, call 503-434-4471 or visit
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