We had arrived back from Portugal and Galicia the night before enjoying this meal. The meals there, many of them incorporating fish and shellfish, were one of the highlights of the trip.
Somehow we had missed dining on one of Iberia’s most noble fishes even though we were there for 16 days, so it seemed right that the first meal I prepared on our return would feature swordfish (Espadarte, in Portuguese, Galician, and Spanish), one of our own local favorites.
While we were away I did miss the huge selection and seasonal variety of the fresh vegetables available in New York City, especially since Iberian cuisine doesn’t seem to emphasize them as much as I have come to, after years of familiarity with French and then Italian cooking models. While we were wandering a Santiago market a Spanish friend pointed to bunches of large-leafed kale and explained that in Spain the vegetable is used in soups (but apparently only in soups). That’s kale, a vegetable whose familiar name accounts for fully 113 results on this food blog, and may include a dozen or so varieties. But turnip greens were big on most menus at the time we were there.
I’m also enjoying a reacquaintance with my easy access to fresh seasoning vegetables and herbs, just a short walk from my kitchen (and with no steep gradients, unlike virtually everywhere in Portugal and Galicia).
- one swordfish steak (13 ounces) from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, halved, then marinated for half an hour in a mixture of olive oil; 3 cloves of a green garlic bulb from Lani’s Farm, chopped; fresh peppermint leaves, also from Lani’s Farm and also chopped; and a very small amount of crushed dried Sicilian pepperoncino from Buon Italia, the steaks drained well, coated on both sides with homemade dried breadcrumbs and pan-grilled over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, removed to 2 plates, seasoned with sea salt, a small amount of white balsamic vinegar tossed on the steaks and then some of the green garlic leaves, chopped, sprinkled on top, before being drizzled with a little olive oil
- a couple handfuls of small red ‘new potatoes’ from Norwich Meadows Farm, boiled in well-salted water, drained, dried in the still-warm vintage glass pot, rolled in a little olive oil, seasoned with salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, sprinkled with chopped baby fennel fronds and some of the stems, finely-chopped
- a small bundle of small-diameter celtuce from Lani’s Farm, the leaves, removed from the ‘stalks’ and washed several times, wilted in a bit of olive oil and set aside, then the stalks, peeled, cut into half-inch sections, briefly par-boiled, drained and dried, sautéed in a little olive over a moderate flame for a minute or two, along with more of the chopped green garlic, then tossed with a sprinkling of pine nuts which had earlier been heated in a cast iron pan until they had begun to brown, the celtuce leaves reserved earlier now gently reheated and distributed onto the plates, the sliced stalks and pine nuts placed on top
- the wine was a Portuguese (Tejo) white, Casa Cadaval Padre Pedro Tejo 2014, from Chelsea Wine Vault
- the music was Haydn, his Symphonies Nos. 91 & 92 ‘Oxford’, René Jacobs conducting the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra