½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
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1 medium yellow onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares
1 medium yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares
1 medium orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed with your hands, plus their juices
8 cloves garlic, cut crosswise into thin slices
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon ground piment d'espelette
1 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus a few picked leaves for garnish
4 skinless swordfish steaks (6 ounces each) cut ¾-inch thick
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons canola oil
Excellent-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing
Heat the oven to 220 degrees. Have at hand a baking dish large enough to hold all of the swordfish steaks in a single layer.
For the piperade: Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high until the oil shimmers. Add the onion, bell peppers and salt, stirring to coat evenly. Reduce the heat to medium; cook the vegetables gently until the peppers are soft, about 15 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, the garlic, orange juice, piment d'espelette and smoked paprika. Increase the heat to medium-high; once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed so the mixture gently bubbles. Stir in the thyme. Transfer 4 cups of the piperade to the baking dish, spreading it evenly. You will have about 2 cups of leftover piperade to save for another use.
For the fish: Season the steaks well on both sides with salt and pepper. Wipe out the large saute pan and place over medium-high heat.
Add the oil; when it is hot and shimmering, add the steaks and sear on the first sides for about 3 minutes until nicely browned.
Transfer to the baking dish, uncooked side down. Do not overlap the steaks. Bake for 15-20 minutes or as needed; an instant digital-read thermometer inserted into the center of the steaks should register 125 degrees.
Divide the piperade evenly among wide, shallow bowls or individual plates. Top each portion with a swordfish steak. Drizzle the fish and piperade with a little olive oil, then garnish with the thyme leaves. Serve immediately.
Cook's notes: You'll have a bit of leftover piperade, which can be used as a side dish, stirred into a quick soup or pasta sauce or served with toast and poached eggs for breakfast. The piperade can be made and refrigerated a day in advance. Reheat it in a microwave on HIGH for several minutes before baking with the swordfish.
Nutrition values per serving: 460 calories, 28 g fat (5 g saturated), 14 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 36 g protein, 65 mg cholesterol, 550 mg sodium.
David Hagedorn, Special to The Washington Post