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I am descended from a long line of fishermen on my grandmother’s side. All of the men were fishermen and most resided in Sant’ Elia, a small fishing village in northern Sicily. When my 2nd great-grandfather, Pietro, finally did make the move to America, he transitioned into a laborer’s position. Much of my family helped to build and lay the streets in the city I live in now, Buffalo, NY.

My 2nd great-grandfather, Pietro Balistreri, to the left of the boat. 

It is this legacy that has me interested in fish. Not necessarily in fishing, but in cooking the kind of fish found in the waters that surround Sicily. One of those fish is swordfish, a predatory fish with a long flat bill that looks like a sword. Swordfish is a firm, oily fish, but is a great fish to consume because it is rated ‘least concern’ in conservation status. Though the recipe I recently made had me bake the fish, swordfish is also great for grilling.

I chose a recipe in Coming Home to Sicily: Seasonal Harvests and Cooking from Case Vecchie, a beautiful cookbook by the owner of Case Vecchie, a notable cooking school in Sicily. Involtini di Pesce Spada means Swordfish Roll-Ups with Pine Nuts and Currants. Thin pieces of swordfish are rolled around a mixture of onion, breadcrumbs, currants, pine nuts, and mint (of course… I am learning Sicilian recipes love mint).

I purchased pine nuts and currants, but I used chocolate mint from my garden.

The fish I purchased from the grocery store was too thick. I had to slice it in half by hand.

Also, be prepared to go through a lot of bowls and dishes. I think I used nearly every dish in my kitchen!

I followed the directions precisely, but the fish was still raw when we removed it, so I put it back in for another 10 minutes. You don’t want to eat this fish raw. 50 different parasites have been found in swordfish.

There are a few things I would do differently with this recipe the next time around. First, bake it longer, as noted above. Second, I would ask if the store could slice the fish thinner if I were to do fish roll-ups again (or just not roll anything since this would have been just as good with the mix on top or coated in it). Third, the fish tasted too fishy to me, but not to my husband. I think I would try marinating it before cooking it next time in olive oil and the orange, lemon, and bay leaves.

Print Recipe
Involtini di Pesce Spada - Swordfish Roll-Ups with Pine Nuts and Currants
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
2-3 servings
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 lemon half juiced, half sliced
  • 1 Orange half juiced, half sliced
  • 1 tbsp currants
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint chopped
  • sea salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound swordfish about 5 thin 1/3 inch cuts
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 2 3/4 cup breadcrumbs unseasoned
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
2-3 servings
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 lemon half juiced, half sliced
  • 1 Orange half juiced, half sliced
  • 1 tbsp currants
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint chopped
  • sea salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound swordfish about 5 thin 1/3 inch cuts
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 2 3/4 cup breadcrumbs unseasoned
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Drizzel the bottom of a medium sized baking dish with 1/2 cup of the olive oil.
  3. Combine the 1/4 cup of the olive oil and onion in a skillet and cook over midium-high until soft, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Stir in 3/4 cup breadcrumbs into the onions and toast slightly.
  5. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the lemon and orange juices, currants, pine nuts, and mint. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Lay a piece of swordfish down and put a heaping scoop of the breadcrumb filling towards on edge. Roll the fish around the mixture. Repeat with the remaining swordfish.
  7. Pour the remaining olive oil in a large plate. Put the remaining breadcrumbs on a large plate.
  8. One by one, roll each swordfish roll in the olive oil and then in the breadcrumbs. Place each roll in the baking dish.
  9. Tuck the bay leaves, orange slides, and lemon slices around each roll-up.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through.
Recipe Notes

Tips:

  • When rolling the fish, I secured each roll-up with a toothpick until I was ready to re-roll in olive oil/breadcrumbs and place int he baking dish.
  • I had a lot of breadcrumb mixture leftover, so I just scooped it on the plate to eat with the fish.
  • As mentioned above, I would try marinating the fish first.

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