Paccheri with Swordfish Ragu

November 22, 2015
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This is a simple recipe designed to highlight some of my favorite Sicilian flavors. The key to this dish is cooking the swordfish slowly and gently, so that it stays moist and absorbs the garlic and chili flavors. If you are unable to find fresh oregano, you can use a few pinches of dried, but add it along with the red chili flakes at the beginning of the recipe.

Please note that I do not salt the pasta water in this recipe. Whenever a recipe calls for the addition of pasta cooking water to a highly seasoned ragu, the final dish may become over-salted if the pasta cooking water is well-seasoned with salt. —Josh Cohen

What You'll Need
  • 2 pounds swordfish steaks, skin removed
  • Salt
  • olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon red chili flakes
  • 8 anchovy fillets, diced small
  • 1 pound dried paccheri pasta (or your favorite tube-shaped pasta)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 heaping handfuls of fresh oregano leaves, roughly chopped
  1. Cut the swordfish into 1/4-inch cubes. Transfer the swordfish to a large mixing bowl, and season generously with salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, add enough olive oil to comfortably cover the bottom of the pot. Add the garlic and the red chili flakes to the cold oil. Adjust the heat to medium, and cook until the garlic starts to sizzle. Add the anchovy. After approximately 6 to 8 minutes, when the garlic is just beginning to brown, turn the heat to low and add the swordfish. Gently stir the swordfish in the oil. Cook the swordfish over very low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, until it is tender and just cooked through.
  3. While the swordfish is cooking, set a large pot of water over high heat. The water should begin to boil right around the time when the swordfish is cooked through. Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook according to the directions on the package, except undercook the pasta by a minute or two. While the pasta is cooking, add the lemon juice and tomatoes to the swordfish, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally.
  4. Transfer the cooked pasta to the pot containing the swordfish, making sure to reserve a cup of the pasta's cooking water. Add half of the reserved pasta water along with the fresh oregano. Turn up the heat and gently stir the pasta. You want to coat the pasta with the swordfish and the flavorful oil. Taste the pasta. Adjust with salt and/or lemon as necessary. If the pasta is too dry, add a little more of the pasta water. If the pasta is too oily, buy some good bread and mop it up while you eat!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Josh Cohen
    Josh Cohen
  • Denise Graves
    Denise Graves
  • Jon
  • Marsha

6 Reviews

Denise G. May 6, 2017
This recipe is perfect! The only change I make is to use fresh tomatoes when they are in season. A favorite for sure!
Jon March 2, 2017
How crucial are the anchovies to the dish? Do they give it a particularly fishy flavor?
Josh C. March 3, 2017
Hi Jon,

The anchovy in this recipe add a background umami flavor. It adds a little salt, a savory taste, and a touch of fish flavor. Often times, when anchovy gets added to a dish in this way, it not easily detectable (like the anchovy in a caesar salad dressing). The anchovies aren't "crucial" to the dish, but I think they add an extra layer of enjoyable savory flavor.
Jon March 3, 2017
Great...thanks for the answer!
Marsha February 25, 2016
The dish was one I will definitely make again. The only edit is in the amount of oregano and chili flakes. Surely, the author did not mean a whole bunch of oregano ! Chili flakes to taste is assumed as well. The swordfish cooks beautifully and stays moist and flavorful. Oh , and I added some parm reggiano when served.
Josh C. February 25, 2016
Hi Marsha,

Thanks for the feedback. I changed the wording on the fresh oregano, hopefully it is clearer now.