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?
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.
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.