Rigatoni with Halibut, Tomato, and Basil

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).
1/2 box dried rigatoni
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 container heirloom tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound halibut, cut into 
3/4-inch cubes
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced, 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 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 the sliced 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 basil pieces and serve.
So my pasta to halibut ratio was super off. I needed more halibut very badly. I also think that a smaller pasta might have worked better because of the size I cut the fish (clearly I didn’t get 3/4 inch pieces. Oops), maybe a fuscilli?
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 cut a lot of corners 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!


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