It's probably some kind of shill to say that one of Mario Batali's own recipes is itself proof that making his Basic Tomato Sauce is worth your time. But the sauce has become a freezer ingredient that I couldn't do without, especially when it comes to quick, simple pastas on weeknights. With little effort, a simple recipe goes from ordinary to superb. Sure, a can of good whole tomatoes will work instead, but a cupful of homemade sauce makes all the difference. It doesn't need to be Batali's—Serious Eaters have their own ideas, too.
This recipe is an exceptional fish pasta, which aren't all that common. The monkfish fillets are an inspired choice—they have a meaty, dense texture that holds up well to cooking. This recipe simmers half-inch chunks of the monkfish in a liquidy, winey broth—almost equal parts wine and tomato sauce. Beforehand, red onion and zucchini are cooked golden brown in olive oil to give it a sweet base. The result is a light yet substantial meal.
About the author: Blake Royer lives in Brooklyn and spends most of his free time cooking and writing about it here at Serious Eats and on The Paupered Chef. From 9 to 5 weekdays, he works as an assistant book editor in Manhattan.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced into thin half moons
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 8 ounces monkfish fillets, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 1/2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce, or canned whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 pound linguine
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Bring a large pot of salty water to boil.
In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat until almost smoking. Add the onion, thyme, and zucchini. Sauté until the onions are soft and everything is beginning to brown, 8-10 minutes.
Add the monkfish pieces to the pan and toss, cooking until they begin to turn white, about 1 minute. Add the wine, tomato sauce or tomatoes, and a good pinch of salt. Bring to a boil then simmer until the monkfish is cooked through and the sauce has reduced some, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain, add the pasta to the skillet along with most of the parsley, and toss until well-combined. Serve immediately and top with any remaining parsley.