Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Swordfish Involtini Alla Siciliana (Adapted From The Babbo Cookbook)

Ever since my first trip to Osteria Mozza (and meeting Mario Batali on a subsequent trip to Pizzeria Mozza with my Top Chef Brother), I've been in love with his regional approach to Italian cuisine.  In most cities, the streets are littered with Italian restaurants, most of which server what I consider to be Americanized Italian food (c'mon, we've all eaten it!).  While it can be tasty, it doesn't get my heart all pitter-paterring in food excitement.  Osteria Mozza did - and The Babbo Cookbook by Mario Batali likewise has been a goldmine of cooking inspiration.

I've been steadily working my way through it, whipping up fresh pastas, and now tackling several of the seafood dishes, including Sauteed Skate And Rock Shrimp In A Saffron Clam Cironette and Halibut with Carciofini Al Mattone And Tomato Anchovy Vinaigrette, but my favorite seafood dish so far has to be Swordfish Involtini Alla Siciliana.  To prepare this dish, you must first make a basic tomato sauce, and then it's laden with olives, capers, red pepper flakes, pine nuts, currants and white wine.  Into the braising pan the sauce goes, followed by Swordfish fillets topped with a yummy herb/bread crumb mixture.  The whole thing gets baked together, and then served with the sauce ladled on top of the fish.

Holy cow!  This sauce is something to write home about!  The combination of briny capers and olives, spicy chili flakes, sweet currants and rich pine nuts sets off a chain reaction of flavor that will have you licking your bowl.  The Swordfish with the bread crumbs is also fabulously moist and meaty, and goes amazing with the sauce.  I've since made this dish several times, and it's quickly becoming one of my favorite household staples.

Swordfish Involtini Alla Siciliana (Adapted From The Babbo Cookbook)
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: about 1 hour (including making basic tomato sauce)

1 1/2 cups basic tomato sauce (see below)
4 swordfish fillets (totaling about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Gaeta olives
1/4 cup salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup currants
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
salt & pepper

basic tomato sauce (makes 4 cups)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped, or 1 tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
2 28 ounce cans peeled whole tomatoes

To make the basic tomato sauce, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened (8-10 minutes).  Add the thyme and carrot and cook for 5 minutes, until carrot is very soft.  Crush the tomatoes with your hands (I love this part!) and add them and their juices.  Bring to a boil, stirring often, and then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Season with salt.  This sauce keeps for 1 week in the fridge and 6 months in the freezer.

To make the swordfish, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In an oven-proof skillet or braising pan, combine 1 1/2 cups of the basic tomato sauce with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the olives, the capers, the red pepper flakes, the pines nuts, the currants and the wine.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and then remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parsley, the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Rinse the fish and pat dry.  Season each piece with salt and pepper.  Place each piece of fish in the oven-proof skillet and top with a heaping spoonful of the breadcrumb mixture.  Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until each piece is cooked through.

To plate, place a piece of fish on a plate and spoons the sauce over it.  Enjoy!

Source For Ingredients
wild-caught swordfish, organic onion, organic garlic, organic carrot, organic thyme, organic flat-leaf parsley and local Mission olive oil from The Hollywood Farmers Market

organic whole-peeled tomatoes, olives, capers, red pepper flakes, pine nuts, currants and Ezekiel bread (for making bread crumbs) from Whole Foods

The Babbo Cookbook by Mario Batali

This is hands down, my favorite recent cookbook purchase.  Inspired by a trip to Osteria Mozza and at the urging of my Top Chef Brother, I purchased it along with my pasta attachments for my stand mixer.  Since then, I've been cooking up a storm and loving ever minute of it!  This is exciting food bursting with flavor and made accessible to the home cook.  I gave it to my mother, The Original Diva, for Chrismtas, and she loves it, too.  I may not be able to afford to eat at Osteria Mozza every day - but now I can bring the Osteria to my house.

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