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Swordfish BLT
Swordfish BLT Photo courtesy of Alla Spina

When we think of gastropub fare, we typically envision upscale burgers and crispy frites. At Philadelphia’s new Alla Spina, however, gastropub cuisine takes a decidedly Italian bent with offerings like poutine made with mozzarella curds, guinea-hen Bolognese and a reworked BLT. Executive chef Damon Menapace’s seafood-based take on the classic sandwich relies on meaty swordfish, porky guanciale and a basil mayonnaise for an Italian twist. Serve the satisfying sandwich with an Italian beer and imagine you’re enjoying a sunny picnic on a distant seashore.

Makes 4 sandwiches

½ bunch basil (about 30 leaves)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ cup mayonnaise

8 slices guanciale (or thick-cut bacon)

1 pound fresh swordfish fillet, cut into four 4-ounce pieces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced

8 large Bibb lettuce leaves

8 thick slices white country bread, lightly toasted

1. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and prepare an ice-water bath. Submerge the basil in the hot water until just wilted, about 10 seconds. Transfer the basil to the ice-water bath to cool.

2. In a blender, combine the cooled basil with the lemon juice. Puree at high speed until smooth. Add the mayonnaise and pulse until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.

3. In a skillet set over medium heat, cook the guanciale until crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the guanciale to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain, leaving the drippings in the skillet.

4. Season the swordfish with salt and pepper. Cook the swordfish in the skillet over medium-high heat until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the swordfish to a plate to rest.

5. Season the tomato slices with salt and pepper. Arrange 2 lettuce leaves, a few tomato slices, 2 slices of the guanciale and a piece of swordfish on top of 1 piece of toast. Spread the mayonnaise on a second slice of toast and close the sandwich. Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients. Slice the sandwiches in half and serve immediately.

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