Grilled Swordfish Puttanesca with Fennel and White Beans

Swordfish is one of the best fish to grill because it has a firm texture and stays moist when cooked at high heat. Fish that make acceptable substitutes for this preparation are tuna, cobia, mako shark, marlin, or really any firm-fleshed steak fish. The puttanesca sauce is a little time-consuming to prepare, so the recipe makes more than you need for this dish. The leftover sauce is excellent over pasta and it freezes well.–Bob Kinkead

Grilled Swordfish Puttanesca with Fennel and White Beans Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • 2 H
  • Serves 4


  • For the puttanesca sauce
  • Two 40-ounce cans imported whole tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large (about 2 cups) yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced; plus 10 cloves, blanched, peeled, and sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup basil leaves, chiffonade
  • For the fennel
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 small fennel bulbs, halved
  • 2 cups chicken stock or water
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing fish
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • For the swordfish
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper, plus more as needed
  • Four 7-ounce center-cut swordfish steaks (about 1/4 inch thick)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 cups cooked white beans
  • 2 teaspoons pesto drizzle
  • 4 sprigs basil


  • Make the puttanesca sauce
  • 1. To make the puttanesca sauce, drain the tomatoes and reserve the liquid. Cut the tomatoes in 1/2-inch dice and reserve.
  • 2. In a large non-corrosive saucepan, heat the olive oil and saute the onion and minced garlic. When they are translucent, add the red pepper flakes and oregano and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • 3. Add the wine, reserved tomato juice, bay leaves, and tomato paste and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened. Add the capers, olives, the blanched garlic, and the salt and pepper and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. The volume should reduce, the flavors should intensify, and the sauce should be chunky and thick. Remove from the heat and fold in the extra-virgin olive oil and the basil chiffonade.
  • Make the fennel
  • 4. To braise the fennel, in a large saute pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. When hot, sear the fennel halves, cut side down, for about 2 minutes, or until brown. Add 1 to 2 cups of the chicken stock to barely cover the fennel.
  • 5. Cover with an oiled piece of parchment and poach for 10 to 12 minutes, until very tender. Transfer from the heat and drain, reserving the cooking liquid. Keep the fennel halves warm.
  • 6. In a saute pan over medium heat, heat the 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. When hot, add the garlic slices and saute for 1 minute. Add the fennel cooking liquid and the 1/4 teaspoon salt and reduce by half.
  • Make the swordfish
  • 7. Preheat a grill or heavy cast-iron grill pan.
  • 8. Salt and pepper the swordfish on both sides and brush with extra-virgin olive oil. On a grill over medium-high heat, cook the swordfish on one side for 2 to 3 minutes, rotate a quarter turn so the grill bars will make a crisscross pattern, and cook for 1 more minute. Turn and repeat on the other side. The swordfish should be cooked through but very moist. Brush with lemon juice and more extra-virgin olive oil.
  • To serve
  • 9. Warm the beans and puttanesca sauce. Place about 3/4 cup of beans in the center of each of 4 warm dinner plates or large pasta bowls. Surround with the sauce and top with a piece of swordfish. Place 2 halves of fennel at the 11 and 1 o’clock positions. Drizzle some of the pesto over the fennel halves. Garnish with a basil sprig and serve hot.