A Dish for No-Man’s Land Weather

I have always felt that early October in the Northeast is a No-Man’s Land- at least when in comes to menu planning. The weather is unpredictable, but generally neither hot nor cold. The days can reach the mid 70’s and so diving into heavier dishes like chili or pot roast doesn’t feel quite right yet. But, the night air quickly cools and the rain storms can be fierce, so the dinners with fruit salsas and cold soups are clearly behind us. Thus, as October rolls around each year, I find myself stuck between two culinary worlds and searching for dishes that give me a comforting touch- but lightly. I want the richness of fall cuisine without the heaviness. And that can be a tall order to fill.

The other day, as I set out to make dinner, I knew that we were having grilled swordfish- I had the swordfish in my fridge already- but I had no idea what I was going to do with it. The day was clear and crisp and the thought of pasta and red sauce started to flow through my mind and just would not leave. As a mental compromise, I lost the pasta- too many carbs anyway-but kept the sauce. An idea started to form- grilled swordfish smothered in a rich tomato jam- light but comforting. Now all I had to do was make it!

I bought two pints of ripe cherry tomatoes, halved them, place them in a sauté pan with a little olive oil, garlic, a dash of salt and red pepper flakes and let them simmer for twenty minutes or so. The tomatoes cooked down and thickened into a delicious savory jam. I grilled the fish, plated it and then smothered it with the tomato jam. I dug in and was oh, so happy. It was the perfect food for the season- delicate but with a warm blanket of tomato-y goodness that comforted you from the inside out.

Two notes: This jam can be made anyway you’d like it- in the mood for a little olives, add them too! Want basil- throw it in. Fennel, great. Onions, even better. I did the bare-bones version because I was short on time. You should feel free to doctor this one up to suit your mood. Also, this is great made ahead. In fact, I think it is better the next day when the flavors marry and mature.

Grilled Swordfish with Tomato Jam
Serves 4

2 lbs 1” thick swordfish steaks
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
2-3 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 t red pepper flakes
¼ c white wine- if needed
sea salt and pepper

To make the jam:
Cut the tomatoes into halves-or quarters if quite large. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over a medium flame and add the chopped garlic. Saute for a minute or two. (If adding onions and/or fennel, add it here.) Add the red pepper flakes and continue to sauté-stirring often for another minute. Add the tomatoes, stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and let the tomato mixture simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the jam gets too thick, add the ¼ cup white wine and them continue simmering for another 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

For the swordfish:
Prepare a grill to medium-hot. Lightly rub the swordfish steaks with olive oil and season them with sea salt and pepper. Grill for 4 minutes on each side. Serve immediately smothered in the tomato jam.

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