Spaghettini col Sugo di Sogliola

Thin Spaghetti with Fillet of Sole

Many people I meet ask me, “Why don’t you give us recipes for sole?” My answer is that no flatfish from either the Atlantic or Pacific Coast resembles in consistency and flavor the sole of my native Adriatic. I test all the recipes I work with using American ingredients, and I have set down only those that, even if they do not duplicate exactly, at least strongly evoke recognizably Italian flavor.

Sole is one of the ingredients that satisfies me least. In this book I have included a recipe for marinated sole fillets—Sfogi in Saor—because at its origin it is a dish that could be prepared with fish of different kinds; it is valid, therefore, with gray sole, lemon sole, rex, petrale, flounder, whatever is available. The same is true of this sauce that, in Italy, we might do with several varieties of white-fleshed fish. You can experiment with your own substitute for sole, if you like.

The flavor base is a sauce of olive oil, onion, garlic, parsley, tomatoes, and hot pepper. Its taste should be as bright and fresh as possible; therefore the cooking times must be very brief. The sole, because it is cut into thin strips, needs very little cooking and should be put in only when the pasta is almost done.

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  • 1 pound fresh fillet of sole
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup onion chopped fine
  • 2 teaspoons garlic chopped fine
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • ¾ cup canned Italian peeled plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • Salt
  • Hot red pepper to taste, cut into thin rings
  • 1 pound spaghettini


  1. Wash the fish under cold running water and pat it thoroughly dry with kitchen towels. Cut it into strips about 3 inches long and inches wide and set aside.
  2. Put the oil and onion in a medium-size skillet or sauté pan and turn on the heat to high.
  3. When the onion becomes colored a pale gold, add the chopped garlic. Cook only until the garlic becomes translucent, then add the parsley.
  4. Stir 2 or 3 times, then add the cut-up tomatoes with their juice, a liberal sprinkling of salt, and the hot pepper. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pan, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. If after 10 minutes the tomatoes are still watery, uncover the pan, raise the heat, and evaporate excess liquid.
  5. Drop the pasta into a pot of abundant boiling salted water.
  6. Add the fish to the tomatoes and, leaving the pan uncovered, turn the strips of sole over frequently and gently, cooking them no more than 2 or 3 minutes, assuming the pasta is nearly done. The fish is done when its raw translucent color changes to dull white. If you are cooking the pasta later and the sauce will need to be reheated, either hold back the fish entirely until you reheat the sauce or cook it for just 1 minute the first time.
  7. When the pasta is tender, but still firm to the bite, drain immediately and toss at once with the sauce. Serve promptly, without cheese.