Swordfish with Chile Pesto

We bought some amazing Gulf swordfish recently at our local seafood shop, Groomer Seafood, and I wanted to try something fun and new with it. I had saved an old email from Tasting Table, and I thought this was the perfect time to try it.

First thing, though – where am I going to find these specific dried chiles? Well, um – since I live in south Texas, it turns out they’re pretty easy to find! They sell the dried chiles in the produce section at our regular grocery store – the ancho chiles are sold by the pound, and the guajillo chiles were sold in a somewhat small bag. Score!

Once I made the pesto, I realized how MUCH pesto this recipe made. I decided to try 2 Tbsp with each serving of fish, which worked out perfectly. After we had made all 4 servings, I portioned & froze the remaining pesto – and ended up with 10 more servings (so 14 servings in total)! Crazy! Well, at least the next time we make this, I’ll just be able to thaw the pesto and cook the fish, easy as that!

This was fantastic, and since we still have TONS of pesto left over (and another hunk of swordfish in the freezer), we will definitely be making it again! 🙂

Swordfish with chile pesto - done

Swordfish with Chile Pesto
Adapted from Tasting Table, recipe from Manny Cisneros, Urbano, Los Angeles
Serves 4


Chile Pesto (makes 14 servings, about 2 Tbsp each – use 4 servings for this recipe):
5 Dried guajillo chiles (stems removed and seeds discarded)
3 Dried ancho chiles (stems removed and seeds discarded)
1½ cups Water (boiling)
2 Tbsp (6 tsp) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
½ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
2 limes, juiced
¼ cup cilantro leaves
1 tsp red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp finely ground black pepper

Swordfish with chile pesto - ingredients

Swordfish, two 8-ounce steaks
Spray olive oil, such as misto
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Avocado, 1 small (halved, pitted and thinly sliced)
1 lime, sliced into wedges for serving

1. Make the pesto: In a medium bowl, add the guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, and boiling water.

2. Cover the bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap (or use a covered bowl) and set aside for 15 minutes. Use the tongs to transfer the chiles to a paper towel-lined large plate. Reserve ½ cup of the chile water and discard the rest.
Swordfish with chile pesto - soaking chiles 2

3. In a small skillet set over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil and the pepitas (pumpkin seeds). Cook, using the wooden spoon to stir frequently, until the pumpkin seeds are golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pumpkin seeds to a blender or a food processor and add the reserved, softened guajillo and ancho chiles, ¼ cup of the chile water and the remaining olive oil, lime juice, cilantro leaves, red pepper flakes, roughly chopped garlic, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Process until the pesto is smooth, adding more of the remaining ¼ cup of chile water if needed to thin and smooth the mixture. Use the rubber spatula to scrape the mixture into a medium bowl and set aside.
Swordfish with chile pesto - pepitas Swordfish with chile pesto - pesto

4. Make the swordfish: Season both sides of the swordfish steaks with spray olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Place a grill pan over medium heat and add the swordfish. Cook until marked from the pan, about 2 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the swordfish steaks over, cooking the other side until the fish is cooked through, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board and rest the swordfish for 5 minutes before slicing crosswise into 1-inch-thick pieces. Arrange the swordfish on the serving platter and serve each serving with 2 Tbsp of the chile pesto and the avocado slices and lime wedges.
Swordfish with chile pesto - cooking fish

**Notes** Serve with brown rice or tortillas, if desired (not included in calculations). Save additional pesto in fridge (up to one week) or freezer (2-3 months).

Nutritional info (fish with 2 Tbsp pesto):
Calories: 214.4
Total Fat: 10.4 g
Cholesterol: 44.2 mg
Sodium: 236.6 mg
Total Carbs: 5.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.0 g
Protein: 24.5 g

Nutritional info (2 Tbsp pesto alone – 14 servings):
Calories: 58.8
Total Fat: 4.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 98.7 mg
Total Carbs: 4.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.2 g
Protein: 1.8 g


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