French in a Flash: Swordfish Paillard with Citrus Salad Recipe

Kerry Saretsky

Growing up in Florida, winter always meant one thing to me: citrus. We had a Lilliputian orchard on our small plot of land that produced Key limes, Persian limes, oranges, lemons the size of softballs, and ruby red grapefruits. We couldn't get to the fruit fast enough. We gave away sacks upon sacks of tart yellow, orange, and green gems, running around under the trees like squirrels anxious to get ahold of their nuts before anything sinister might befall them. And that is why to this day I recoil at the idea of paying 69 cents for a stingy lemon in a New York grocery store. Ridiculous.

I'm in Florida this week, and the choices of citrus overwhelmed me—I'm like a greedy little kid in a Sour-Patch candy store. This dish was inspired by the bistro classic chicken paillard: thinly pounded fillet of meat, quickly seared on a hot grill, and served with salad. It's one of those French dishes that is so simple, but made special by just the smallest amount of attention paid to preparation. When I'm in Florida, I eat nothing but fish, so I made this with thawed frozen swordfish fillets. You could substitute any meaty steak fish. Pound the fish thin, and grill it in seconds on a panini press. Top it with a salad of rough-and-tumble spinach and arugula, with pink Florida grapefruits and blood oranges, sweet fennel, and salty onyx oil-cured olives. Light and lovely, it's the perfect lunch in the sunshine—or for dreaming about it.

Recipe Details

French in a Flash: Swordfish Paillard with Citrus Salad Recipe

Active 15 mins
Total 15 mins
Serves 4 servings


  • Four 6-ounce fillets swordfish
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 ounces mixed baby spinach and baby arugula salad
  • 1 blood orange
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 40 oil-cured black olives
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic


  1. Cut the skin off the fish fillets, and butterfly them. Place each fillet between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap, and pound fish to between 1/4- and 1/2-inch thin with rolling pin. Place fish in baking dish with 1/4 cup olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Preheat panini press or two-sided grill press to its highest heat setting.

  2. Zest orange and reserve. Segment orange and grapefruit. Wring out juice from what is left of orange and reserve. Toss orange and grapefruit segments with spinach and arugula salad, black olives, and fennel.

  3. Whisk together orange juice and zest, lemon juice, remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, and salt and pepper until emulsified. Toss salad with dressing and set aside.

  4. Once grill press is hot, grill fish, one fillet at a time, until fish is opaque, and just beginning to color, about 1 minute. Set aside, and repeat with remaining fish fillets. Cut clove of garlic in half, and while fish is hot, rub each fillet very gently with cut edge of garlic clove. Place fish on large platter and top with salad. Serve immediately.

Special equipment

Panini press or double-sided grilling machine