Almost five months without a new recipe, and no complaints? Hmmm. Well, to remedy the situation, presuming you actually noticed, here’s a favourite of mine when time is short and trips to the supermarket are out of the question. All the ingredients are constantly present in my cupboard – though naturally they are rotated reasonably frequently.
This is, I think, the first fish-based recipe on the blog so you can keep it in mind if you have any observant Catholics over for dinner on Good Friday, or that friend of your wife’s who swears she’s a vegetarian but is quite happy to eat fish.
Tuna – whether you pronounce it “chew-na” or “two-na” (I’m happy to go with the former) – is the king of edible fish. It comes in different shapes, sizes and colours but on the plate is always magnificent. It’s a cousin of the humble mackerel, just a good bit beefier (Atlantic bluefins can be over 10 feet long) and a good bit faster (Southern bluefins can reach 75 kph!). Bluefins can also live to the ripe old age of about 50, though with aggressive fishing tactics these days, I can’t imagine there’s too many of these lads around.
The Japanese, of course, love tuna (though I suspect they would eat anything which has been steeped in sea-water for long enough…) and produce wonderful dishes with it. They call it maguro, literally “black-eye”, and often don’t get around tocooking it, being as it is one of the most popular elements of sashimi. But Southern Europeans, too, have a long tradition of eating tuna – one of life’s greatest pleasures is tucking into a lightly pan-seared tuna steak with a touch of balsamic vinegar and black pepper, accompanied by an asparagus, olive and tomato salad. Aaaaaaaah.
Now then, where was I. Ah yes, tuna. Today’s recipe is an absolute doddle, something to get the kids involved in or something you, be you totally inept in the kitchen or just a lazy sod, can rustle up in the time it takes to boil a large pot of water and a few hundred grammes of pasta.
So with no further ado, here’s Merven’s Mediterranean Macaroni with Tuna. Have fun!
- 160g tin of tuna (in brine or olive oil, it will be drained anyway)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- a handful of capers
- finely chopped fresh parsley, lots
- 200g pennette (or penne)
- freshly-ground black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
First, put your large pot of water for the pasta on to boil. Everything else can be done in the time it takes this to boil. Well it should…
Now open your tin of tuna and drain off the brine or olive oil. If your capers are in salt, now would be a good time to put them in a glass with a water/vinegar mix, to cleanse them of the salt. If you don’t do this, your tongue will shrivel to the size of a bat’s willy and you will drink gallons of water for the next 24 hours. So do it. If your capers are in brine, leave them where they are. They’re probably very happy and won’t thank you for taking them out.
Next, take your chopping board and sharp knife and get to work on the garlic cloves. These need to be cut into tiny pieces. What I usually do is julienne them and then cut them again. Or, you can just chop away like merry with a meat cleaver, singing an air from Le Nozze di Figaro as you go. I’ll leave it up to you.
When you’ve decimated your garlic, put it in a small frying pan. Add plenty of olive oil (cover the bottomn of the pan, about 6 tablespoons should do. Sweat the garlic and when it begins to soften, add the tuna, breaking it up as much as you can while mixing it in with the garlic. Add a pinch of pepper and allow it to bubble away. Add the capers after a couple of minutes.
When the pasta water has come to the boil, bung in a large handful of sea salt and the pasta and cook for one minute less than the packet says. When the time’s up, drain it, splash some cold water through it (remember, you’re not giving it a cold shower!) and bung it back into the pot. Empty the contents of the frying pan into the pot and give it a good mix up, throwing the parsley into the fray while you’re at it.
Finally, serve with a smile, a hearty sprinkle of freshly-ground black pepper and a crisp white wine (a Sauvignon Blanc or even a Muscadet would be good). Now wasn’t that easy.