Piperade is a Basque tomato and pepper stew. A mix of red, yellow and orange bell peppers makes a nice presentation. The stew is flavored with piment d’espelette, a spice made from dried, ground mild red peppers indigenous to the Basque region in France. We found the spice at La Cuisine in Alexandria and Dean & DeLuca in the District.
You'll have a bit of leftover piperade, which can be used as a side dish, stirred into a quick soup or pasta sauce or served with toast and poached eggs for breakfast.
To guard against overcooking, use a digital thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the fish, which should be 125 degrees.
Make Ahead: The piperade can be made and refrigerated a day in advance. Reheat it in a microwave on HIGH for several minutes before baking with the swordfish.
- For the piperade
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (1 cup)
- 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares
- 1 medium yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares
- 1 medium orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 28 ounces canned whole peeled plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed with your hands, plus their juices
- 8 cloves garlic, cut crosswise into thin slices
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 teaspoon ground piment d'espelette (see headnote)
- 1 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus a few picked leaves for garnish
- For the fish
- Four 6-ounce skinless swordfish steaks, cut 3/4 inch thick
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- Excellent-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Have at hand a baking dish large enough to hold all of the swordfish steaks in a single layer.
For the piperade: Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high until the oil shimmers. Add the onion, bell peppers and salt, stirring to coat evenly. Reduce the heat to medium; cook the vegetables gently until the peppers are soft, about 15 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, the garlic, orange juice, piment d'espelette and smoked paprika. Increase the heat to medium-high; once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed so the mixture gently bubbles. Stir in the thyme. Transfer 4 cups of the piperade to the baking dish, spreading it evenly. You will have about 2 cups of leftover piperade to save for another use.
For the fish: Season the steaks well on both sides with salt and pepper. Wipe out the large saute pan and place over medium-high heat.
Add the oil; when it is hot and shimmering, add the steaks and sear on the first sides for about 3 minutes until nicely browned.
Transfer to the baking dish, uncooked side down. Do not overlap the steaks. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or as needed; an instant digital-read thermometer inserted into the center of the steaks should register 125 degrees.
Divide the piperade evenly among wide, shallow bowls or individual plates. Top each portion with a swordfish steak. Drizzle with a little olive oil, then garnish with the thyme leaves. Serve immediately.
From The Process columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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