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Swordfish, Sicilian Style

Swordfish, Sicilian Style

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4
Wrinkled salt-cured black Sicilian olives are the perfect choice for this dish, but other salt- or brine-cured black olives would work as well. Try Greek Kalamatas, tiny black niçoise olives, or one of the many black olives from Spain or Italy. When cooking with olives, be careful when adding salt to your dish, as most olives are themselves quite salty. Taste the olives, add them to the dish, then taste the dish to see if more salt is needed. Olives that seem too salty to begin with may be blanched for a minute in boiling water, then drained.


  • Olive oil for coating
  • 4 swordfish steaks, each about 1/2 lb.

For the spice rub:

  • 1 Tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbs. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds, ground in a mortar or spice
  • 1⁄4 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon pepper or freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa:

  • 1⁄4 cup chopped pitted Sicilian or other cured
      black olives
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1⁄4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
  • Salt, to taste


Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over high heat and oil the grill rack. Coat the swordfish with olive oil.

To make the spice rub, in a small bowl, mix together the garlic powder, basil, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, salt and lemon pepper. Sprinkle both sides of each swordfish steak generously with the spice rub.

To make the salsa, in a bowl, mix together the olives, tomatoes, basil, garlic, cayenne, oil and lemon juice. Taste and season with salt. Set aside.

Grill the swordfish directly over high heat, turning once, until grill-marked, firm to the touch and opaque throughout, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Arrange the fish steaks on individual plates and top with the salsa or serve it alongside. Serves 4.

Variation Tip: Serve with the salsa tossed with your favorite pasta.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Grilling, by Denis Kelly (Simon & Schuster, 2002).