swordfish pasta plated

Here is another fantastic summer pasta dish that I love making at home – pasta with swordfish (a typical dish from Southern Italy and Sicily). You can find swordfish at the fish counter in most supermarkets these days. Whole Foods always has them. If you tried the steak seasoning from my last post and have left over anchovies that you weren’t sure what to do with it, this recipe is for you.

Pesce spada is Italian for swordfish, literally fish spade. Whenever I hear the word spada, I think of my friend from university who studied abroad with me at Università per Stanieri di Siena. She was telling me about her excursion to San Galgano, a medieval city 30 minutes or so outside of Siena, famous for the legendary sword in the stone. They say it’s where the story of King Arthur and Excalibur originated. She told me that she saw the spade in the rock (spada nella roccia) and I could not stop laughing. I never heard it called that before – the sword in the stone sounds much cooler. 😉

Speaking of friends from Università per Stranieri di Siena, a good friend of mine, who I met there while studying abroad, is getting married this weekend in Oregon! So greetings from Portland guys! We’ll be here until the weekend and I can’t wait to share with you our experiences and all the great food we eat when we get back.

ingredients for pesce pasta

Here is what I need for 2 servings.


200g pasta (shells, paccheri, calamarata or rigatoni)
1 swordfish steak, cut into one inch cubes
4-6 large cherry tomatoes (or small vine tomatoes), diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 anchovy fillets (in olive oil; or in salt rinsed)
1/2 cup white wine
peperoncino (crushed chili flakes)


In a pot of boiling water, add a good pinch of salt and your pasta. I used shells or conchiglie pasta. The classic version of this recipe calls for calamarata or paccheri, but any tube shaped pasta will do. At the same time, heat a pan and add olive oil. Add in minced garlic, sauté until aromatic but not colored. Add in anchovy fillets, diced tomatoes and peperoncino. Cook until anchovies have dissolved and tomatoes are just softening.

olive oil in wok olive oil garlic tomato anchiovy

Add in the swordfish. As the fish begins to look opaque, add in some white wine, salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer and reduce for a few minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Add in finely chopped parsley.

add pesce spada glass of wine add chopped parsley

By now, the pasta should be just al dente. Drain and add into sauce. Toss together on low heat. Adding in the pasta will help thicken the sauce. As you toss, break apart some of the swordfish chunks into smaller pieces. You are now ready to plate. Sprinkle some fresh parsley and peperoncino on top. Buon appetito!

stir together add pasta to sauce ready to mix together

This sauce is very versatile and can be used as a base for many different pasta dishes. By simply adding in capers, olives and/or eggplant (before the tomato stage) you get a completely new dish. I can always find shells or rigatoni pasta at the supermarket, but if you want to make the authentic recipe and use paccheri or calamarata pasta like they do in Southern Italy, try your local Italian deli or market, or Home Goods (Home Goods?!). Home Goods usually has a good selection of Italian ingredients and artisan dried pasta (who would’ve thought?).

Remember how I had all those ingredients and farmers market produce over the weekend? We invited some friends over for dinner and my mom came over for fresh smoothies in the mornings, and we managed to finish off everything before we left! We even had a free night for a fancy meal out :). I uploaded many of the photos before we left, so hopefully will be able to blog about them throughout the week while we’re here. If you have any food recs for the Portland area, please leave me a message in the comments section below and we’ll add it to our list. Thanks guys and don’t forget to subscribe to our blog after reading! Happy eating!

2 comments on “sugo di pesce spada (swordfish tomato sauce)”

    • Hi Sue!

      Homegoods might carry trofie pasta once in a while. I have bought them at the Italian Deli behind the Dunkin’ Donuts in Normandy, Ellicott City before. Some Whole Foods carry the Rustichella d’Abruzzo brand trofie pasta.

      If you can’t find trofie, try using fusilli or penne. Any short pasta is good for pesto.

      Hope that helps!

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