Many years ago, I worked at a small, family-owned bakery since childhood, and I remember a very interesting coworker named Alan. Whenever someone would claim that summer solstice was the first day of summer, Alan would correct them with a theory of his. To this day, I’ve never heard it discussed outside of those bakery walls. Not only did I never forget Alan’s hypothesis, but I’ve come think there might be some real merit behind it.
His claim? Alan noted how the days leading up to solstice became progressively longer, but then the light would begin to wane immediately afterwards. Therefore, solstice wasn’t the beginning of summer but rather officially mid-summer. (I don’t know the history of summer solstice, or why we started claiming it as the official start of summer, but I’d be curious to find out.)
Whatever your thoughts on the official start of summer, one thing we may all agree on is that summer is more of a feeling: lazy days, warm nights, backyard barbeques. The energy is buzzing, plans are more laid back and spontaneous, and the food is as fresh as it gets.
I wanted to put forth a recipe in honor of this special time. Something tasty, invigorating, and practical. A dish to invoke tropical, sandy beaches for all of us who don’t get to experience the luxury of year-round, sunshiny summer weather and salty sea air.
This mouthwatering swordfish has a spicy little kick that’s complimented by the crisp, juicy, refreshing blend of flavors and textures in the salad. It really fits the bill.
Though available any time of year, official pineapple season runs from March through June. This is when you’ll find them at their peak flavor. Test pineapples at the store for ripeness by gently tugging on one of the leaves. If it pulls out with ease, it’s ripe. Another technique is to use your nose: if a pineapple smells sweet and pineapple-y, it will undoubtedly taste sweet and pineapple-y! And if your pineapple isn’t quite ready to eat, just leave on the counter for a few days until it ripens.
Outside of their juicy deliciousness, pineapples have a whole lot going for them in the department of nutrient density. They’re extremely high in vitamin C and manganese, and they contain a significant volume of some B vitamins (particularly B6, B1, and folate). But one of the most special things about pineapple is bromelain, an enzyme that shows promise as a treatment for all sorts of inflammation as well as a list of other ailments, including ulcerative colitis, muscle soreness, and pulmonary edema. I eat pineapple mostly because I love the taste, but I also eat very mindfully, in a way that supports my health and my active, athletic lifestyle, so the extra assurance of all this good stuff sure is an added bonus!
You’ll find an impressive nutritional profile in swordfish as well: high in protein, minerals, and vitamins (specifically vitamins D, B12, and B6). Their meaty texture and mild flavor often appeal to those who otherwise aren’t so keen on other types of fish. However, swordfish are large, predatory fish. As such, they’re at the top of the food chain and may contain higher levels of contaminants. But as long as you don’t over-consume them, you should have relatively little cause for worry. Alternately, you may substitute salmon or halibut. If you do, adjust cooking times accordingly because these types of flakier fish tend to be less dense. (This dish would also be exceptional with chicken or shrimp.)
Blackened Swordfish Skewers with Pineapple, Jicama, and Coconut Salad
Prep time: 20 minutes, plus time for salad to marinate
Cook time: 15 minutes
For the blackened seasoning rub:
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
For the salad:
1 small jicama, peeled and diced into large, bite-sized pieces
2–3 cups diced fresh pineapple
½ cup raw, large-flaked, unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons lime juice
¼ cup cilantro
1 pinch cayenne
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the skewers:
24 oz. fresh swordfish or protein of your choice
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil or oil of your choice
1½ tablespoons blackened seasoning rub (recipe above)
Lime wedges, for garnish
Bamboo or metal skewers
- Combine all blackened seasoning ingredients. Set aside amount you need for your recipe, and store remaining rub in a small jar
- Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to let flavors meld.
- Trim skin and any dark spots from swordfish. Cut in large, bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with melted coconut oil and toss with blackened seasoning. Thread swordfish onto skewers and set aside.
- Preheat grill to high. Grill skewers until fish is firm and cooked through, about 8–10 minutes.
- Plate salad. Serve skewers atop salad with a wedge of lime for garnish.
Image from Briana Goodall.