swordfish stew September I love you but you make me sad. Your arrival brings with it the end of endless days, the end of corn and peaches and tomatoes, the end of grand slam tennis. You throw me into a funk.

This morning my son walked out the door a high school senior. His sister, a junior, is not far behind. I drive past their old elementary school and think about the years of “kiss & ride” drop offs and hours spent on the playground after dismissal.

At the store I daydream. What if, when I get home, they are there? What if, when I open the door, they are not 17 an 16, but instead 7 and 6, my daughter’s two front teeth missing, my son still willing to return a hug?

swordfish stew plated 2

I try to remember what I love about September, the syrupy light, the soft breeze, the singing cicadas. The end of mosquitos and flies. A return to stove top cooking. I go about my day. Later I’ll put the stew on to cook over low heat, at a slow and gentle simmer.

Makes 6 main-course servings or 8 to 10 side-dish servings

Overnight-Marinated Swordfish Stew

I adapted this recipe from one that I came across in a decades-old issue of La Cucina Italiana. My mother was a subscriber for years and she she still has stacks of copies saved. One of my favorite pastimes is to flip through them, in search of forgotten recipes like this one. If you are used to tough, overcooked grilled swordfish, you are in for a treat. Here, a single piece of fish is marinated overnight with onions, tomatoes, olives and herbs, then simmered over low heat. As it cooks, the stew creates its own richly flavored brothy sauce, which gently poaches the fish. It's one of my favorite recipes, not only for its simplicity but also for its spectacular results. It's a great dish to serve to company, especially with bruschetta on the side. (From The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy, Chronicle Books 2006).


  • 1 large swordfish steak (2 pounds)
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • 1 cup pitted Gaeta or Kalamata olives
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 rounded tablespoon minced fresh oregano
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Season the swordfish generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Place it, all in one piece, in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot with a lid. It should fit comfortably but snugly. Cover the fish with the onion, tomatoes, garlic, olives, bay leaves and oregano. Drizzle the olive oil over everything, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

To cook the fish, remove the pot from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for an hour. Place the pot on the stove top over low heat and cook, covered, for 70 to 90 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and the tomatoes have collapsed. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaves and garlic. Using a large serving spoon, scoop out chunks of fish into shallow bowls. Spoon the vegetables and broth over the fish and serve.

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44 Responses to September

  1. Helen September 2, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    Not only do I love this fool proof and satisfying dish, but your prose here has made me limp.

  2. Ciao Chow Linda September 2, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    I have to echo Helen’s sentiments. The dish is gorgeous, with the colorful tomatoes – but your words really got to me. Beautifully expressed universal thoughts. Oh to turn the clock back!

    • Domenica Marchetti September 4, 2014 at 8:16 am #

      Thank you Linda. Sometimes it can be hard to fight off that nostalgia. I’m a wallower.

  3. Rosa Mayland September 2, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    Oh, that stew looks and sounds fantastic! A great in-between-season dish.



  4. sippitysup September 2, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    I don’t have children (and don’t follow tennis) but this post makes me wistful anyway. Must be the season… XOGREG (some boys still return hugs).

    • Domenica Marchetti September 4, 2014 at 8:17 am #

      Aw, thank you Greg. If we ever get to meet in person I will hit you up for one of those hugs.

  5. Adri Barr Crocetti September 2, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    What a beautiful post. What a lovely ode to summer and times gone by. And what a beautiful dish. I’ll say that in spite of the fact that I do not eat fish. Just the same, that is one fine stew, Ms. Marchetti. Complimenti!

  6. Karen September 2, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

    I’m right there with you…it is a bittersweet month. My daughter will be a high school senior starting this Friday. I’m getting ready to savor this last year with her before a new chapter begins. The swordfish looks wonderful!

    • Domenica Marchetti September 4, 2014 at 8:18 am #

      Good luck with what is certain to be a roller coaster of a year, Karen. xo

  7. Marilena L. September 2, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

    Love the bright, vibrant colors of this dish Domenica…. Enjoy the kids while they are still around and before they live for college. I have three teenagers myself and I understand very well these feelings!

    • Domenica Marchetti September 4, 2014 at 8:19 am #

      Many thanks, Marilena!

      • Marilena L. September 5, 2014 at 9:51 am #

        Would love to meet Domenica, if your schedule is lighter this Fall.
        Perhaps we can have you come as a quest chef at Culinaria Cooking School some time!

        • Domenica Marchetti September 5, 2014 at 10:11 am #

          Yes, let’s do it. I will be in Italy the latter half of this month. But for sure when I get back.

  8. Mary Louise Tucker September 2, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

    Beautiful Domenica. The food and the story!

  9. anniesingerart September 2, 2014 at 11:43 pm #

    Oh I LOVE swordfish! I’ll be trying this very soon! Grazie mille.

  10. Marie September 3, 2014 at 12:17 am #

    Beautiful reflections of the past. Life just flies by, before you know it you’ll be planning weddings and enjoying your grandchildren. Life is short, savor every minute and enjoy every bite. I know I will when I make your vibrant stew!

    • Domenica Marchetti September 4, 2014 at 8:20 am #

      Thank you Marie. You are right ~ there’s plenty to look forward to.

  11. elisa September 3, 2014 at 8:03 am #

    Ah! Chinese wisdom: ” Live with the season and the season will reward you with its bounty”……
    I found out that works, without regrets for the past season. Ciao Domenica, I think you are ready for your trip to Italy. Enjoy it!!!!!

  12. staceysnacks September 3, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    Buying my swordfish now to make this, even though it’s 85F stlll! Summer, please don’t end!

  13. Eva B. September 6, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

    As always, beautiful, inspiring work Domenica!

  14. Sunday Taylor September 6, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

    I noticed you contributed to the most recent Fine Cooking issue. I noticed your name and had to say “hi” since I was named after a “Domenica.” So happy to have discovered your blog. I also love to cook and was just flipping through Fine Cooking to find something new for tomorrow night. Lovely blogpost about September!

    • Domenica Marchetti September 9, 2014 at 10:41 am #

      Hi Sunday, and welcome! There aren’t too many of us out there. (I was named for my grandfather Domenico.) I hope you’ll find lots of cooking inspiration here. I’m looking forward to checking out your blog as well. Cheers and thanks.

  15. duespaghetti September 7, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    We love swordfish and are always looking for new ways to prepare it. This soup looks like it is good for one’s health and soul alike. Wishing your kids a great school year!

  16. Frank Fariello September 7, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    Funny, I actually like September. Among other things, it’s my birthday month—but more than that, I love the Fall: the cooling temperatures, the falling leaves, the vague feeling of melancholy in the air… But then again, I’ve always been a little odd that way.

    • Domenica Marchetti September 9, 2014 at 10:54 am #

      Auguri Frank! I am right there with you. I do love September for those very reasons you mention. This year, though, I’m feeling a little more nostalgic knowing that before long both my kids will be off doing their own thing. I’m happy about all these changes but at the same time they do make me wistful.

  17. jamielifesafeast September 8, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    Ah, September has opened with one son in Senegal and the other in Munich and although I love being all alone with my husband, like a second honeymoon, I feel the change like never before. And yes my babies…. are grown. I love September, the change of temperature, cool but warm, the changing light, sitting outside at a café for pre-dinner drinks. And I love the promise of autumn foods on the market. I love the autumn and love September. And adore this stew, the blend of flavors and a wonderful way to prepare fish which we just don’t do often enough.

  18. Meeta September 8, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    My sentiments about September exactly … if barren winter was not ahead of us i am sure it would be my favorite season. I am loving your stew – swordfish is one of my favorite kind of fish – versatile and so many exciting possibilities. Brilliant way to start September!

    • Domenica Marchetti September 9, 2014 at 11:05 am #

      Thank you for reading, Meeta. Wishing you a happy fall season.

  19. MB@Bourbon and Brown Sugar September 8, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

    Domenica, this is such an enchanting piece… a perfect daydream, to imagine your son would still (eagerly) return your hug! If it’s any consolation, it’s not happening in my house either, with a my 16-year old … now at least six inches taller than me:)

    • Domenica Marchetti September 9, 2014 at 11:07 am #

      MB, where did those years go? I feel like they were just at HTS. Ah well. Adriana is at least 4 inches taller than I am. Crazy.

  20. paninigirl September 11, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    I love swordfish and plan on making this soon. Thanks again Domenica!

  21. Eva September 26, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    I made this last night – didn’t plan very well so I did not marinate overnight but this still was fantastic!!! It was so nice to have some perfectly moist swordfish for a change 🙂 Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe.

    • Domenica Marchetti October 2, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

      Thanks Eva. It’s good to know that it works even if it doesn’t marinate all night.

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