Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Monday Dinner: Pasta with Preserved Tuna and Olives

Monday again. WWHHYYY???

Anyway, I figured it was time for one of my favorite recipes--pasta with tuna, olives and capers.  It's relatively easy and super, super tasty.  However, just to warn you, cheap it is not.  Why is that?  It requires few ingredients, but they have to be good.  Here are some of the main ingredients:

Yeah, see that stuff on the left? It's tuna packed in oil.  As the sign in the supermarket said, this ain't your regular canned tuna. The recipe is insistent about high-quality preserved tuna, so high-quality preserved tuna I use. To the tune of $8 for 7 ounces. Oh, but wait, I need 14 ounces. Yes, so it's $16.  But it's honestly delicious. I can eat it straight out of the jar.  That's why, while I love this recipe, I don't make it terribly often. Here's the ingredient list:

  • 1 pound dried fettuccine

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

  • 6 anchovy fillets, rinsed, dried, and minced

  • 1 1/2 cups canned tomato puree

  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped

  • 1/4 cup Gaeta olives, pitted and chopped

  • 14 ounces excellent-quality tuna preserved in olive oil

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • Let's not forget this:

    First, I chop up everything that needs...chopping--the garlic, parsley, anchovies, and olives.  I'm not a big fan of anchovies on their own, but I really love using them in cooking. The just melt away into your dish and add this salty earthiness.  Again, use the good quality stuff packed in olive oil for this.  You're supposed to rinse them before you chop, but I didn't. 

    Now for the Gaeta olives. I imagine you can use Kalamata also.  To pit the olives, I gently crush them with the side of a knife--do this carefully, as they are slippery and you don't want to sever tendons. 

    Flattened ones at the bottom, unblemished ones at top

    When you crush them, you'll find that it's very easy to kinda pry them apart and squeeze/pull out the pit.

    See? Olive deconstructed: a retrospective.

    The recipe calls for 12 ounces of tomato puree.  I don't know if that's the same thing as tomato sauce.  Tomato sauce tends to be a little sweet, so to be safe I just took a can of 14 oz peeled whole tomatoes and pureed them.  Then add 1 TBS of capers (you're supposed to rinse them first, but I didn't).

    Saute the garlic in some olive oil (I actually used the oil that the tuna was packed in), add the anchovies and cook for a few minutes, then dump in the tomato/capers puree.

    The recipe says to then add cooked pasta, tuna, and olives, but I cooked the sauce for about 30 minutes.  I feel like extra simmering time for pasta sauce only helps.  After the pasta was cooked, I added it to the pot, along with the tuna (broken up), the chopped olives, and parsley. I found the parsley to be particularly refreshing in this dish.

    Ah, the beauteous tuna.

    Since I was lazy and neglected to rinse the anchovies and capers, *and* used the salty tuna oil for sauteeing, I didn't add any salt.  The dish was still a tad salty, so if you want to be more careful, rinse the anchovies and capers, and/or use olive oil instead of the tuna oil.



    1. Mmm. Looks great! Pitting your own olives, that is a labor of love. Dang. I love anchovies in pasta... I try to sneak em in sometimes but mark thinks it's too fishy. (He's wrong, it's delicious. What does he know.)

    2. That looks seriously delicious. I love good quality tuna. I've never cooked with anchovies unless I was making a caesar dressing, perhaps I need to branch out.

    3. those pics are gorgeous. my computer is fritzing out because of all of the drool.

    4. yummm..that looks delicious. you make me ashamed of the junk food i eat for dinner. >.>"