Swordfish with Burst Tomatoes, Peppers, and Za’atar and Preserved Lemon by Colu Henry

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My dad ordered swordfish a lot when we vacationed on the Cape in the eighties. He also spent a lot of time unsuccessfully surf casting on Nauset Beach, but that’s another story. In the years following, swordfish became so overfished that for many years it was taken off menus. Since then, a lot of work has been done to rebuild the population and I’m so pleased we’re able to eat them responsibly again. They are meaty, flavorful, wonderful fish that hold their own with punchy flavors, which you’ll see here. If you can find the Italian Jimmy Nardello varietal of peppers for this recipe, please do. They are up there as one of my favorite peppers, and when cooked, their sweetness intensifies and almost becomes a bit smoky. I first had them in Napa and was thrilled when the farmers at Sparrowbush started growing them here in Hudson. Clearly a bell pepper will also work, but I think the Nardello’s are worth tracking down.

Serves 4
Time: 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS
4 tablespoons (60 ml) olive oil
3 Jimmy Nardello peppers or 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into long thin strips
2 pints (290 g) mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved if large
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 chile pepper, such as cayenne, serrano, or jalapeño, thinly sliced
2½ teaspoons za’atar (a Middle Eastern spice blend consisting of dried herbs and sesame seeds)
¼ cup (112 g) seeded and roughly chopped preserved lemon (both peel and flesh)
½ cup (120 ml) dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 (6-ounce/170 g) swordfish steaks, about ¾ inch (2 cm) thick
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
Flaky salt, for finishing (optional)

METHOD
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a deep-sided 12-inch (30.5 cm) skillet over medium heat. Add the sweet peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are softened and beginning to turn golden in spots, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the cherry tomatoes to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to burst, 5 to 7 minutes, pressing the tomatoes gently with the back of a spatula or wooden spoon to get them nice and jammy. (I like to keep some with more structure than the others for texture’s sake.) There should be a fair amount of liquid released in the pan. If not, add a few tablespoons of water. Stir in the garlic, chile pepper, za’atar, and preserved lemon and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, until the garlic is fragrant and the spice mix is lightly toasted.

Pour in the white wine and bring to a simmer, scraping up any brown bits that have formed at the bottom of the pan, and cook for 10 minutes or so, allowing the flavors to get to know each other and the sauce to slightly thicken. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, prepare the swordfish steaks. Season the fish well with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, and then gently flip to finish cooking, 2 to 3 minutes more, or until the flesh is opaque all the way through. Arrange the swordfish in the pan with the tomatoes and peppers and scatter the top with the oregano leaves. Season with flaky salt if you like. Spoon more of the sauce over the top and serve from the pan.

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Spring lamb ragu with anchovies and pea shoots by Colu Henry
Smoky and Spicy Shrimp with Anchovy Butter and Fregola by Colu Henry

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Colu Cooks by Colu Henry
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Smoky and Spicy Shrimp with Anchovy Butter and Fregola by Colu Henry

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It’s all right there for you in the title. Sweet shrimp is sautéed until just cooked through, and fregola (a tiny toasted pasta from Sardinia) is added to the pot to toast in the melted anchovy butter and spices with some cherry tomatoes. I love Calabrian chiles packed in oil and use them here for some punchy heat, but if red pepper flakes are within closer reach feel free to use them instead. Once the fregola finishes cooking, return the shrimp to the pot to warm them through and serve straight from the pan. Serve with many bottles of chilled red wine.

Serves: 4
Time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS
1 pound (455 g) extra-large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup (½ stick/55 g) unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 oil-packed anchovies
3 Calabrian chiles, roughly chopped, or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pint (290 g) cherry or Sungold tomatoes
1½ cups (270 g) fregola
3 cups (700 ml) chicken stock
½ cup (20 g) loosely packed basil leaves, torn if large, or roughly chopped parsley or mint, or a combination of all three

METHOD
Season the shrimp well with salt and black pepper. In a 12-inch (30.5 cm) skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove and set aside on a plate.

Add the garlic, anchovies, Calabrian chiles, and smoked paprika to the skillet and stir until the garlic is fragrant and the anchovies have dissolved, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and toast for a minute or so. Add the cherry tomatoes and stir to coat. Cook until the tomatoes begin to burst, pressing down on them gently to help release their liquid, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the fregola to the pan and stir until the pasta is well coated in the spiced butter. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the fregola is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the shrimp back to the pan with any juices that have accumulated on the plate and stir until they are just warmed through. Scatter with herbs and serve.

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Swordfish with Burst Tomatoes, Peppers, and Za’atar and Preserved Lemon by Colu Henry
Spring lamb ragu with anchovies and pea shoots by Colu Henry


Buy this book
Colu Cooks by Colu Henry
£25, Abrams Books

Read the review
Coming soon

Grilled bream with pink grapefruit by Ollie Dabbous

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Gilthead bream is one of the best-quality farmed fish you can buy. It is always consistent in quality and very good value; not as meaty as sea bass, but with lovely oily flesh and crisp skin. It is great cooked over the barbecue or under a hot grill. This dressing is as delicious as it is simple. Feel free to chop and change as you wish: lemon and mint would work brilliantly, as would blood orange and sage.

Dressing
2 pink grapefruits, segmented with 6 tablespoons of their juice
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Chardonnay vinegar
1 tablespoon clear honey
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and crushed

Bream & fennel
2 fennel bulbs
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
100ml white vermouth
2 gilthead bream, scaled, filleted and pin-boned by your fishmonger
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
fine sea salt

DRESSING
– Mix everything together and warm through in a pan. Do not heat it too much, or the grapefruit segments will cook and collapse.

BREAM & FENNEL
~ Preheat the grill to its highest setting.
~ Slice the fennel lengthways as finely as possible on a mandolin or with a sharp knife, then mix in a roasting tray with the fennel seeds and vermouth. Season lightly with salt.
~ Lightly season the fish on both sides with fine salt, spoon 1 tablespoon of the oil over each fish fillet, then place skin-side up on top of the fennel, to cover the bulk of it.
~ Grill under the preheated grill for about 8 minutes, until the fennel has wilted but the fish is cooked through and has a crispy skin.

To serve
~ Divide the fennel and fish between 4 warmed bowls and spoon over the warm grapefruit dressing.

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Chicken pie by Ollie Dabbous
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Buy this book
Essential
£30, Bloomsbury Publishing