One-Pot Wonders

The (Not Barefoot) Contessa's Fish Pasta

August  1, 2009
Author Notes

The mother of one of our boys' friends in Rome turned out to be a contessa, a title that only matters if other people care (and they seem to). This is not a very fussy contessa and doesn't mind sleeping on our couch. She can also cook for an army. This is one of her dishes. Can be made with any flakey white fish. Snapper good but I find it best with fresh striped bass. Be very careful stirring the sauce: the fish should remain intact. The tomatoes should be fresh and cooked al crudo, till the juices are released but they are still a little raw. - Fisheri —fisheri

Test Kitchen Notes

Fisheri's recipe title -- The (Not Barefoot) Contessa's Fish Pasta -- caught our eye. Turns out the recipe comes from an actual contessa, a friend of Fisheri's. The sauce reminded us of so much of the cooking we've seen in Italy, with vegetables and fish simmered for much longer than you'd expect. Here, the fish is sauteed in oil, and then it stays in the pan as wine is reduced and fresh tomatoes are added and simmered. We feared the fish would end up in shreds. Instead we learned something: by adding the fish early on, its flavor infuses the whole sauce, so the tomatoes and fish are no longer separate entities, but fully integrated into the sauce. And the capers and olives reinforce the flavor of the fish with brine. It ends up being a more vibrant version of puttanesca. - A & M —The Editors

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 12 or so oil cured olives, depitted and chopped
  • 1 pound white fish, like striped bass or snapper
  • 1 tablespoon salted capers
  • half a glass of white wine
  • 4 big and fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 packet linguine or spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped roughly
  • salt and pepper
In This Recipe
  1. chop tomatoes roughly
  2. dice garlic
  3. deskin fish and cut into bite sized chunks
  4. saute three tablespoons of oil with garlic for two minutes or so over medium heat
  5. add fish, stirring carefully until browned. try not to break it up.
  6. once browned, add salt and pepper, then half glass of white wine and turn up heat. stir carefully till wine is nearly evaporated.
  7. meantime, heat pot of hot water for pasta, generously salted.
  8. when wine is nearly evaporated, reduce heat, add tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes or so
  9. add capers (i prefer just to shake the salt off them rather than wash them), parsley and olives. again stir carefully: you don't want to turn this into fish puree. when the tomato juice is released and the sauce is just thickening, turn off heat. you want the tomatoes a little raw.
  10. cook pasta al dente.
  11. carefully add the sauce to the pasta over a little heat. stir gently for a minute or two and serve.

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