This recipe for Rigatoni with Halibut Tomato and Basil is loosely adapted from Marc Vetri’s cookbook, Rustic Italian Food. Last Friday, I went to Vetri for the first time. And it was hands down the best meal I’ve ever had, both food and service. I was also so terribly awkward that I’m not quite over it. Marc Vetri is one stellar chef. He opened Vetri in 1998 and 14 years later continues to wow people with the food he turns out. I was swooning over each and every plate that came out. I brought my parents for their 30th anniversary and honestly, I feel like it ended up being as much a present to myself as it was for them (sorry mom and dad!).
Vetri even came over to our table, wished my parents a happy anniversary, and signed his cookbook for me! (This is the stage where I got truly embarrassing. I absolutely turned red during this encounter. Eep). So naturally, I can’t think of anything but those delicious meals. I decided to use a recipe from his cookbook, Rustic Italian Food. I ended up using Halibut because the store I was at was out of swordfish (boo).
- 1 (16 oz) box dried rigatoni
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 (12 oz) containers heirloom tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 pound halibut, cut into large chunks
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup basil leaves, hand torn, plus additional basil leaves for garnish
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt liberally and add the pasta. Return to a boil and cook until the pasta is tender but firm, about 9 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving about a cup of the pasta water.
While waiting for the pasta to cook, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, 3 minutes. You want the onions and garlic to be soft, not browned.
Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the fish and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring so that the fish cooks evenly. You want the fish to be white all over but not necessarily cooked through.
Add in torn basil and mix to combine.
Add the pasta to the pan. Add a small ladle of the pasta water to the pan and cook for about 2 minutes, tossing to coat.
Squeeze in the lemon juice and add salt and pepper as needed.
Top with additional torn basil and serve.
Flavor wise, this was really wonderful. For such a simple dish, it had plenty of flavor and tasted oh so fresh.
My meal was delicious, but didn’t even come close to what I’m sure it was supposed to taste like. Granted, I adjusted this recipe quite a bit to make it a quick meal so I’m pretty happy with the result!
The original recipe topped the pasta with eggplant fries which would have been delicious but I was so hungry and didn’t take the time to make them. Next time I will for sure!