grilled swordfish with pesto, capers and tomatoes

August 20, 2008


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Swordfish is my favorite fish. It can' t be eaten too often I' m told, due to the threat of infertility, blindness or death by mercury. Despite the noxious metals that settle in its flesh, swordfish is one of the most delicious dishes ever drawn from the sea. The best swordfish I' ve ever had came from a little hole in the wall, inhabited by five Italian men, one of whom spoke enough English to explain the menu to me. The fish came topped with a savory sauté, made of capers, olives, onions and cherry tomatoes. The topping was especially surprising because it was served cold, in contrast to the warm fish below. It was the first time I' d really been struck by how much contrasting temperatures can enhance a dish. I was also served a side of grilled vegetables, which were a great complement to the somewhat heavy protein. I made this recently and served it with grilled zucchini and pesto. By placing a dollop of pesto on top of the fish, I was able to balance the sauté on top without it slipping off. Since swordfish has such a strong taste on its own, it can easily stand up to the additional flavors and textures.


Brush with olive oil and sea salt and marinate with fresh rosemary 1 hour before grilling. * Grill (a few minutes on each side) * serve with sliced lemon. (If you forget to marinate, don' t worry: just brush with oil and salt before grilling.)


Blend 1 bunch of basil with ¼ c olive oil, juice of 2 lemons, ¼ c grated Parmesan, ¼ c pine nuts and cloves of roasted garlic. * Modify amounts according to your taste. * Cool in the refrigerator at least 1 hour before dinner.

Tomato and Caper Sauté:

Sauté one red onion and 1 pint of cherry tomatoes halved in 1 tbsp. olive oil.* I like to use a mix of yellow and red tomatoes for color. * Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl for refrigeration. * Add black olives (pitted and chopped) and capers. * Cool in the fridge at least an hour.


Cut zucchini into long, thin strips and coat with olive oil and sea salt. * Grill about 15-25 minutes. * Move zucchini to sides of grill while fish cooks to preserve smoky flavor, or transfer to oven (250 degrees) to keep warm until serving.

To Serve:

Serve fish with a dollop of pesto and a spoonful of sauté on top. Use pesto to dress the zucchini as well. I like to drink red wine with swordfish since it' s the steak-iest of aquatic animals. We had an Argentine Malbec, which is medium bodied and has a nice, sustained finish.

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