One of my favorite condiments is a fresh basil pesto. Over the years, I’ve created and adapted many of my own versions of pesto using different flavor bases with a variety of seeds, seasonings and nuts. A wonderful winter version of basil pesto, though, is a sweet-tart fruity Sun-dried Tomato Pesto.
I wish I could say I created it, because it is that good, but I got the recipe from a friend. It is a traditional type of pesto recipe and there really isn’t anything remarkable about it except the flavor.
Even though I can’t cite the name of the newspaper where she clipped the precious scrap that she shared with me, I can give the recipe high praise. I’ve been using it for at least a couple of decades.
So when I need to feed a crowd with a variety of dietary limitations, (precisely food allergies, religious restrictions and weight loss concerns– all at the same table), I like to serve this simple, fresh and filling meal.
(Amounts are for 4 average eaters, assuming dessert will follow the meal.)
4 russet potatoes, scrubbed and pierced with a knife
1 large Heirloom tomato (approx. 1-1 ½ lb) cut into ¼” slices
Fresh baby spinach
Olive oil for dressing
4 (6-oz.) swordfish steaks
(or any fish of your choosing, but firm fleshed fish is best)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 lemon, juiced
½-1 cup Greek yogurt, seasoned with ¼ teaspoon salt, pepper to taste and, if desired, some finely minced cucumber and a hint of coriander.
For Sun-dried Tomato Pesto:
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and sliced thin
3 heaping tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Do Ahead: Arrange the plates and set aside in the refrigerator until needed:
A bed of fresh spinach, by the handful, on the center of the plate.
Sliced Heirloom tomato along the curve of one side of the plate. Season lightly with coarse sea salt, freshly ground Malabar pepper, and a slim drizzle of olive oil.
Bake one potato for each guest. To save time and heating costs, microwave pierced potatoes for approximately 5 minutes per side, turning once.
The potatoes should feel almost fully cooked when you gently squeeze the outside. Put them into a 375˚ degree oven or toaster oven (to conserve energy) to finish baking.
Next, preheat broiler or fire up the grill.
In the time it takes to preheat the broiler or grill, you can make the pesto.
In a food processor or blender, combine sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan, olive oil, garlic and salt. Process until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl, add a serving spoon and set it aside.
Season the swordfish, on both sides, with ¼-1/2 teaspoon salt and a dusting of freshly ground pepper. Brush with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place in a shallow, broiler-safe pan (or atop an oiled grill).
Broil, 4 to 5 inches from heat, until lightly browned and thoroughly cooked, about 4 minutes per side. Alternately, grill on one side for about 3 minutes and turn to grill the other side for an additional 4 minutes. All times are approximate depending on your appliance.
When done, the fish should be opaque and flake easily with a fork. Remove the fish from the oven (or grill) and squirt with lemon juice (about ¼ of one lemon).
Serve immediately, with a dollop of sun-dried tomato pesto, placing the hot fish atop the spinach to cause some mild wilting. Put the baked potato on the side of the plate. Offer lightly seasoned yogurt to pass for the potatoes.