An insightful look into the home kitchen of acclaimed chef Marc Vetri, revealing his favorite tools, ingredients, and cooking techniques.
As one of the most celebrated chefs in America, Marc Vetri has made a name for himself with his authentic Italian cuisine served at critically-acclaimed restaurants across the country. However, when he’s not commanding the stoves at his bustling restaurants, Vetri unwinds by cooking low-key meals at home.
In contrast to the complex, multi-course tasting menus he creates for diners, Vetri’s home cooking reflects his philosophy of simple, fresh ingredients combined thoughtfully. Read on for an exclusive peek into Vetri’s kitchen staples and go-to recipes when off the clock.
Marc Vetri’s Kitchen Essentials
Like all great chefs, Vetri has honed his craft over decades, developing an intuitive understanding of how ingredients work together. When cooking at home, he sticks to a simple yet robust pantry that allows him to whip up meals with creativity and ease.
High-Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Vetri always has several bottles of top-notch extra virgin olive oil on hand. He prefers light, fruity varieties from Italy or Spain and uses it liberally in everything from sautéing to salad dressings. A quality extra virgin olive oil with fresh, complex flavors serves as an indispensable foundational ingredient.
Canned San Marzano Tomatoes
San Marzano tomatoes from Italy are a key component of Vetri’s pantry. Grown in the mineral-rich soil of Mount Vesuvius, San Marzano tomatoes have a bright acidity and sweetness that Vetri loves. He relies on canned San Marzano tomatoes year-round to add rich, concentrated tomato flavor to sauces, stews, and more.
You can never have enough garlic in an Italian kitchen. Vetri makes sure to have fresh, whole garlic bulbs on hand at all times. He minces or slices garlic to infuse dishes with its pungent aroma and bold flavor.
Quality Cheese Selection
Being of Italian descent, Vetri considers cheese essential. He stocks his fridge with a rotating selection of parmesans, pecorinos, mozarellas, and other artisanal Italian cheeses. Vetri shaves cheese over pastas or as a finishing touch to lend rich, savory depth.
Vetri emphasizes the importance of fresh herbs in cooking. He grows basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and other herbs right on his windowsill to clip leaves as needed. Their vibrant green flavors instantly lift the simplest dishes.
Vetri’s Go-To Home Cooking Recipes
When decompressing after a long day, Vetri prepares laidback yet scrumptious meals for his family and friends. Here are some of his favorite dishes to whip up with ease:
Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe
This Roman pasta dish comes together in minutes but delivers an indulgent punch of flavor. Vetri combines freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese with black pepper and olive oil, tossing it with piping hot pasta to create a silky sauce. The starchy pasta water helps emulsify the sauce, making it perfectly cling to each strand.
Make the most of summer’s juicy tomatoes and crisp cucumbers with Vetri’s spin on Italian bread salad. He advises using day-old crusty bread, tearing it into chunks then toasting briefly to recrisp. Combine with halved cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, shredded basil, and a bright vinaigrette. The bread soaks up the flavors while still providing crunch.
For a homey classic, Vetri breads and pan-fries boneless chicken breasts before smothering them with simmered San Marzano tomatoes and melted mozzarella. Served atop pasta or with a side salad, it’s the ultimate comfort food. Vetri adds depth by including fresh oregano and garlic in the tomato sauce.
Pasta e Ceci
“Pasta and chickpeas” makes for a hearty, protein-packed meal. Vetri suggests using small pasta shapes like ditalini or elbows. Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil before adding cooked chickpeas, chicken broth, rosemary, and Parmesan rinds (for flavor). Simmer until thickened then mix with the cooked pasta. Top with Pecorino Romano.
Buttery, garlicky shrimp scampi is one of Vetri’s go-to weeknight meals thanks to its quick preparation. He cooks jumbo shrimp briefly in a skillet with white wine, lemon juice, parsley, and minced garlic. A hit of red pepper flakes adds a touch of heat while lemon brightens the briny shrimp flavor. It’s ready in under 10 minutes over pasta or crusty bread.
Vetri’s Tips for Elevating Home Cooking
As an award-winning chef, Vetri has invaluable advice for taking weeknight dinners from bland to restaurant-quality. He believes even simple meals can be extraordinary with care and the right techniques:
- Use high-quality ingredients. Splurge on the best olive oil, cheese, produce, and proteins you can afford – their flavors will shine.
- Taste as you go. Constantly check seasoning and make adjustments to achieve the perfect balance of flavors.
- Cook pasta until slightly underdone. It will finish cooking in the sauce and have the perfect tender-yet-toothsome bite.
- Let meat rest before slicing. Allowing it to rest after cooking helps retain juices.
- Finish dishes with fresh herbs. A garnish of chopped parsley, basil, or cilantro gives brightness.
- Make breadcrumbs from leftover bread. Toss stale loaves in the food processor for instant breadcrumbs to coat chicken or fish.
- Embrace mistakes. Unplanned char or overcooking can lead to tasty revelations – go with the flow!
Marc Vetri’s laidback home cooking proves that crowdpleasing meals don’t require complicated techniques. By relying on quality ingredients, following his intuition, and adding love to every dish, Vetri brings restaurant flair to his family dinners. While his expert tips transform basic meals into something special, he encourages finding joy in the process. Much like his award-winning restaurants, Vetri’s cooking philosophy centers around creating food memories through shared meals.