I imagine eating this meal with a glass of white wine on a summer evening during the golden hour when the soft light of day makes way for night and everything is still save for the crickets romancing in the grass and the occasional bursts from the lightning bugs. In my magic hour dream my glass of wine is cold, there are no mosquitos, both children are asleep for the night, my partner made dinner, I’m thirty pounds lighter, and I can see through the window that the kitchen is spotless-dishwasher running, counters and table clean, floor washed. The reality- sitting at a dirty table in a sweltering kitchen on a dreary, hot day; dirty, crying children who didn’t touch the fish and smeared more dinner on the floor and table than into their mouths; warm boxed wine (at least there’s wine); and I’m bone-tired after a long day and then a frantic dinner dash with children underfoot, and now I’m left with a dishwasher to load and kitchen to clean, unless I want crusty dishes to greet me at breakfast, which is becoming progressively earlier, slotting in at 6:30ish these days.
But the reality is also a kickass dinner. Mahi Mahi is like the steak-chicken of the fish world. It’s meaty like steak but mild like chicken, a perfect fish for fish lovers and those on the fence, and a great fish for the buttery, bright notes of the basil butter. And then there’s angel hair pasta that, as far as pasta goes, feels lighter and summery, and this one even more so with sweet pops of tomatoes, fresh herbs, extra virgin olive oil, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese (not the green tin on this oh so special day: we’re eating all fancy in our dirty house day). Like my dream and its reality both components have bits of good (mahi mahi and herby fresh heritage tomatoes) that hide the bad (basil butter and cheesy, oily goodness). I like to think that the good and bad negate each other and what’s left is a perfect melding of the two, a thing of magic with sweet tomatoes brightening the meaty, light fish and notes of basil running throughout the dish.
And it is a magical dish, an elegant date-worthy dish that makes it to the table in under twenty minutes with minimal prep, few dishes, and lots of flavor. The two components taste “meant for each other” perfect. And it truly is a perfect meal: great for a date, easy enough for a weeknight meal, homemade healthy for your children, tasty enough to keep you coming back for more, and straight up sexy to make you feel good about yourself, your cooking chops, the world at large, your dreams, even your reality, or maybe that’s the warm wine talking.