Marc Vetri's Rigatoni with Swordfish, Tomato, and Eggplant Fries

Marc Vetri's Rigatoni with Swordfish, Tomato, and Eggplant Fries

[Photograph: Kelly Campbell]

This Rigatoni with Swordfish, Tomato, and Eggplant Fries from Marc Vetri's Rustic Italian Food is not only a genius plate of pasta filled with fresh, unexpected flavors but it's also one that can be assembled in the time it takes for your rigatoni to cook up perfectly al dente.

The sauce is a simple yet beguiling combination of sweated onions and garlic cooked down with sweet (even in February) grape tomatoes and bite sized chunks of swordfish. Topped with shredded leaves of basil, it's just right but if you're feeling ambitious, take the extra time to finish it with Vetri's Eggplant Fries. They add a crisp, salty element that complements the pasta in a most satisfying way.

Why you should make this: Swordfish and pasta? Not the most common pairing but a brilliant one. Seriously, give it a shot.

Next time we might think about: This sauce benefits from a strongly flavored fish. Perhaps next time tuna?

Reprinted with permission from Rustic Italian Food by Marc Vetri, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

  • Yield:Makes 4 servings
  • Active time: 30 minutes
  • Total time:30 minutes


  • 12 ounces refrigerated extruded Rigatoni, or 10 ounces boxed dried rigatoni
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 8 ounces grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound swordfish, cut into 
3/4-inch cubes
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 15 fresh basil leaves
  • Eggplant Fries (recipe follows)  
  • Eggplant Fries
  • 1 Italian globe eggplant, about 
1 pound
  • Canola oil for deep-frying
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper 


  1. 1.

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the pasta, quickly return to a boil, and cook until the pasta is tender yet firm, 2 to 7 minutes, depending on how long it has been refrigerated (or 8 to 9 minutes for the boxed stuff). Drain the pasta, reserving the pasta water.

  2. 2.

    Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the fish and cook until white all over but still translucent in the center, 2 to 3 minutes.

  3. 3.

    Add the drained rigatoni to the pan. Add a splash or two of pasta water and cook, tossing to coat, for about 2 minutes. Taste and season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper as needed.

  4. 4.

    Remove the garlic and divide among warm pasta bowls. Tear the basil into coarse pieces by hand and scatter over the pasta. Top with the eggplant fries.

  5. 5.

    Eggplant Fries: Peel and cut the eggplant into sticks about 1/2 inch thick and 21/2 inches long.

  6. 6.

    Pour 2 inches of oil into a Dutch oven or deep fryer and heat to 350°F on a deep-fat thermometer. Meanwhile, dip the eggplant pieces in the milk, then dredge in the flour. Working in batches to maintain the 350°F temperature, drop the vegetables into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes for the eggplant.

  7. 7.

    Using a wire skimmer, transfer the vegetables to paper towels to drain, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.