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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mediterranean Swordfish in Parchment Packets


Usually for Keith's birthday, I ask him what he would like me to make him for dinner. This year he decided he wanted to eat swordfish, and all I can say is thank goodness for food blogs. Prior to that, my entire fish-cooking repertoire consisted of salmon, haddock, cod, and tilapia. That's it. Swordfish has always seemed like something out of my league. Why? Because I told myself so, and then it becomes the truth. I did a little food blog searching and came up with a recipe that seemed relatively simple to prepare.

The recipe (which comes from "Sass & Veracity", who found it here) has you bake the fish in little parchment packets. You prepare a salad of tomatoes, roasted peppers, onions, olives, capers, and lemon juice, along with a couple of herbs and spices. This recipe calls for pasta to be baked along with the fish, but something about that pairing rubs me the wrong way, so I replaced the pasta with some rice. On the parchment, you layer the rice, salad, and fish, then close the whole thing off and bake.

HOLY COW. We were both so blown away by this recipe. The rice soaked up the flavors of both the fish and the Mediterranean salad, and the fish came out juicy and perfect. The flavors of the olives and capers were so strong in this recipe, but they meshed with everything so nicely. I honestly have ordered fish at a Mediterranean restaurant that didn't taste half as delicious as this. The presentation is also pretty awesome, as you just plop the individual parchment packets on a plate and unwrap it at the table.

Out of the oven

For a salad, in an attempt to make something different than my usual dinner salad, I did some more food-blog-scouring. I popped out with a recipe (from "What Would Cathy Eat") for a simple salad made with arugula, red onions, beets, and oranges. I won't re-post the recipe here since I really didn't change anything, but I will admit I took a shortcut and used canned pre-sliced beets. I know the flavor is different when you cook fresh beets yourself, but I honestly like canned beets. I also used the juice of half of a small orange in the dressing.

Below is the recipe for the swordfish with a few slight changes. Originally, the recipe lists 3 cups of fresh tomatoes, chopped, but that was just way too many tomatoes for me. Instead, I used two large heirloom tomatoes, and I couldn't imagine having any more in the finished product. They also list pepper-infused olive oil as an ingredient, but I have no idea where to get this and I really didn't want to spend the money on a whole bottle of fancy olive oil that I would be using just two tablespoons of. Instead, since I purchased pre-roasted bell peppers in a jar, I used two tablespoons of the oil that they came packed in, which was pretty pepper-infused if you ask me. And, as mentioned before, I switched out the pasta in this recipe for rice, and I'm really glad I did. The swordfish steaks I bought were also MASSIVE, as compared to the 5oz steaks called for originally. I just increased the cooking time very slightly and everything turned out.

Mediterranean Swordfish in Parchment Packets
2 footlong sheets of parchment paper
2 swordfish steaks
2 large tomatoes, seeds and insides scooped out and sliced (somewhat like a pepper)
1 1/2 roasted bell peppers, any color, chopped
2 Tbsp each of chopped fresh parsley and oregano
1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 quarter of a red onion, sliced
2 Tbsp capers, chopped
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half (I realized after the fact that they meant to cut it in half widthwise, while I sliced them lengthwise... I don't think it matters at all)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp red pepper oil, or oil from the jar of roasted peppers
Regular olive oil
1/2 cup uncooked long grain white rice
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Add your tomatoes to and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the next eight ingredients to the bowl (bell peppers through pepper oil) and drizzle with about 2 Tbsp regular olive oil. Stir this mixture to combine and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Put this mixture aside on your counter and let it sit for about an hour.

Preheat your oven to 450ยบ and prepare your rice. Boil 1 cup of salted water in a saucepan. Once boiling, turn down the heat and add the white rice. Stir briefly and cover, allowing rice to cook for 15 minutes. Once cooked, fluff the rice with a fork.

On a baking sheet, prepare parchment packets. In the center of one sheet of parchment, add half of the cooked rice. Top this with a generous spoonful of your pepper/tomato mixture. Place the swordfish on top, and then spoon on some more of the pepper/tomato mixture. To close off the packets, I just kind of folded two opposite sides of the parchment into the middle, then twisted and scrunched the other two sides together. Any way you can figure out to close the parchment is acceptable... one of the packets opened slightly during cooking and this had no affect on the fish. Repeat this with the other piece of parchment with the remaining ingredients.
 Scrunched together packet

Bake the packets in the heated oven until cooked through. The original recipe states 12-15 minutes should do the trick, but since these swordfish steaks were so huge, I left them in for 16 minutes and they were cooked perfectly.

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