No, that’s not mashed potatoes sitting under this scrumptious Halibut and Tomato Garnish – it’s Celery Root Purée!

(Photo by Rick Souders)

I love cooking halibut because it’s such a mild and flaky fish. It’s also super flexible and can be prepared numerous ways. This Halibut with Celery Root Purée and Tomato Garnish was adapted from a recipe that ran in Chef John Broening’s column in The Denver Post. It’s my kind of recipe – absolutely delicious, easy to prepare, beautiful on the plate, and impressive to serve.

And, if that’s not enough, it’s also very flexible. Chef Broening cooks the fish on the stovetop; I cook it in the oven or on the grill. He uses dill, while I use tarragon. I think the real secret is the celery root purée. Often people think it’s mashed potatoes, and are always surprised at the unique and delicious flavor.

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Fish shaped blue platter with Halibut with Celery Root Purée and Tomato Garnish.

Halibut with Celery Root Purée and Tomato Garnish

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Halibut with Celery Root Purée and Tomato Garnish is super scrumptious, easy to prepare, beautiful and impressive to serve!

  • Yield: 8 servings 1x



Celery Root Purée

  • 4 medium to large celery root bulbs, peeled and cubed
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and sliced into tablespoons
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Pinch sugar (optional)

Tomato Garnish

  • 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, stemmed and halved (or quartered if large) – see Note
  • 3 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 2 heaping tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons white wine vinegar


  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh halibut, skin removed, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/4 cup lemon-flavored or extra virgin olive oil


Celery Root Purée

  1. In a large saucepan, cover cubed celery root with water. Add squeeze of lemon juice and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 25 to 30 minutes or until the celery root is very tender; drain.
  2. In a food processor, combine celery root and butter; process just until blended. Add the crème fraîche and process until the consistency of mashed potatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Taste, and if it is a bit bitter, add a pinch of sugar.
  3. Return to saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a large shallow baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Tomato Garnish

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, toss together the tomatoes, tarragon, shallots, olive oil and vinegar. Set aside.


  1. Brush both sides of the fish with the lemon-flavored olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. When hot (but not smoking), place the halibut top side down in the pan and cook 3 minutes or just until golden brown.
  3. Turn over and place in prepared baking dish in one layer. Roast in the oven, uncovered, 8 to 10 minutes per 1-inch of thickness (at its thickest point), until opaque and just cooked through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, spoon celery root purée on each plate. Top with fish fillet and spoon the tomato mixture (and juices) over the top. Serve immediately.


Note on tomatoes: Chef John stresses using vine-ripe tomatoes, preferably black tomatoes if you can find them.

Make ahead: Celery root purée can be made up to 24 hours in advance, cooled, covered and refrigerated. Rewarm in a saucepan over low heat. Tomato garnish can be prepared up to 4 hours in advance, covered and kept at room temperature.

Variation: Grill the fish instead of roasting it. Preheat grill on high. Place a grilling rack or oiled foil on the grill. Place fish on the rack and cook for 10 minutes per 1-inch of thickness, turning it over halfway through cooking time. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

  • Author: (From “Fresh Tastes” by Lee Clayton Roper)
  • Category: fish, main dish, gluten free, easy entertaining
Fish shaped blue platter with Halibut with Celery Root Purée and Tomato Garnish.

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About the author

Hi, I'm Lee.

I am inspired by my mother, Sally’s, love of cooking and entertaining to gather friends and family together over great meals and conversation. In fact, I held my first dinner party at the age of 16. Throughout the years, I’ve provided recipes, menu advice and cooking tips to friends seeking uncomplicated and delicious ideas for home entertaining.

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