Sunday, September 11, 2011

Spaghetti w/ Tuna and Olives

Another recipe from one of my go-to books, Italian Country Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. This is very similar to a recipe in one of my Marcella Hazan books, Pasta with Sicilian Sardine Sauce, which I like better but is more of a production in that you have to hunt down fresh sardines. (Anytime I can come across fresh sardines I snap 'em up but that's a whole other story I'll write up at some point. ) I think it's safe to say that the two recipes probably have the same basic origins in seafood areas in Italy.

This recipe is simple and another staple using pantry ingredients when we're stuck with the 'what should we cook tonight?' question.

2 tablespoons parsley
2-3 cloves garlic
1 red onion diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 anchovy fillets - salt-packed or canned in oil
6 oz. can of oil-packed tuna
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon capers rinsed and drained
1/2 - 1 pound spaghetti (depending on how much to serve)

A good mis en place helps with this dish as there are several ingredients you'll want to combine in quick succession. I'd recommend having the can of tuna opened, the anchovies cleaned, boned and rinsed (if using the salt-packed ones), the capers prepared, and the tomato paste at the ready beforehand.

Set a large pot with salted water to the boil and add the spaghetti, which should cook in the water until about one minute short of the time recommended on the package. While it cooks, pound the garlic and parsley in a mortar with a pinch of salt into a paste.  This will be the base of the sauce you're going to make for the pasta.
Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat and add about half of the onion and all of the garlic-parsley paste stirring to combine while it heats. While it cooks, grab about a cup or more water from the pot with the pasta and set aside to use as you prepare the sauce.
Once the onion is soft and translucent, add about 1/3 cup of the pasta water and reduce it to nothing. Add the tomato paste and anchovies, stirring to break down and combine with about 1/3 cup more of the pasta water. Stir and cook for about a minute then add the tuna. Allow it to cook for a minute. Add more of the pasta water if the contents of the skillet has dried too much.

When the pasta is ready, grab another 1/2 cup or so of the water to put aside, then drain it in a colander. Add it to the skillet to mix and cook with the sauce for about a minute, add the remaining onion and the drained capers, adding salt and pepper to taste.

As with any seafood pasta dish, best not to add any cheese to it. However as you may notice in the photo, we served this with fresh tomatoes from the garden dressed with olive oil, basil. and a scoop of burrata.

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