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Messina-Style Swordfish Rolls (Involtini di Spada Alla Messinese)

Sicily: Authentic and Traditional Recipes from Around the Island / Phaidon

6 thin slices of swordfish (about 1 lb), skinned

6 tablespoons grated mild cheese (such as mozzarella, provolone, or caciocavalla)

1 tablespoon breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 sprig basil, chopped

olive oil, for drizzling

salt and pepper


For the sauce:

½ celery stalk

½ small onion, chopped

4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon capers, preserved in salt, rinsed

½ cup pitted Gaeta olives, halved

salt to taste


Trim the swordfish slices to make neat rectangles, reserving the trimmings. Cover each rectangle with plastic wrap and beat lightly with the side of a rolling pin, being careful not to break the flesh.


Chop the trimmings and mix them with the grated cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, and basil in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and mix again.


Place the fish slices on the work counter and divide the filling among them, then roll them up and secure with wooden cocktail sticks or toothpicks.


Make the sauce. Blanch the celery in salted boiling water for 3-4 minutes, then drain and slice. Pour ¾ inch of water into a pan, add a pinch of salt and the onion, and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes, until the onion is softened and translucent. Add the tomatoes, oil, capers, olives, and celery and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Add the swordfish rolls to the pan of sauce, cover, and cook for another 10 minutes. Lift off the lid, remove and discard the cocktail sticks or toothpicks and cook for a few minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and serve the rolls hot or cold with the sauce spooned over them.

Serves 6

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