Sunday, 11 August 2013

Rigatoni Puttanesca

I've always loved the flavour combination of tuna, capers & olives and of course I love pasta so when I came upon JO’s Pasta Puttanesca very many years ago (I think it was in Jamie’s Dinners which was published 10 years ago!) it was obvious it was going to be a winner.

And so it is, and has remained. In truth it is not actually Jamie’s recipe but rather his mentor, his “beloved Gennaro” (Contaldo) and it is fab.

“Whore’s” or “Slut’s” pasta: can be made with spaghetti too but I quite like the way that “tube” pasta gets filled with the lovely piquant, spicy & salty sauce: I don’t think the tuna is a classic version but one that in my eyes at least makes it even more delicious.

This can be made with tinned tuna but make the effort - and let’s face it, it really isn’t that much of an effort these days - to get fresh: be sure to not overcook it and you will have a real feast.

In all honesty there is probably enough sauce here, with the addition of only another 25-50g of dried pasta for 3 people, but as usual, we were feeling greedy...

Rigatoni Puttanesca
Serves 2 generously

a handful of fresh basil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
zest and juice of ½ lemon
extra virgin olive oil
240g tuna steak(s), cut into bite-size chunks
2-4 anchovy fillets (according to taste), roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
small handful of rinsed capers
handful of mixed black & green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1 or 2 small dried chillies, crumbled (or Korean or Turkish red pepper flakes work rather well)
1 generous handful of very ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
a swig of white wine
small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
200g rigatoni (or spaghetti or penne)

Smash the basil, using a pinch of salt and pepper, to a pulp with a pestle & mortar. Turn into a bowl and add the lemon zest and juice and a good glug of extra virgin olive oil.

Mix all together and then add the chopped tuna and allow to marinate (at least thirty minutes I would say for maximum flavour).

Get a large pan of salted boiling water on and cook the pasta according to the package instructions.

As soon as you put the pasta on, put a glug of olive oil into a large frying pan and put on the heat. As the pan starts to get warm, add the chopped anchovy fillets and fry fairly gently until they melt into the oil.

Now add the garlic, capers, olives, and chilli and stir around for a couple of minutes.

Then add the tuna chunks along with all the marinade.

When the tuna has coloured on all sides, add the tomatoes and a (reasonably hefty) splash of white wine.

Bring to a boil, then turn down to a gentle simmer for around 5 minutes, stirring regularly with a spoon and breaking the tuna up into smaller pieces.

Check the seasoning and very carefully correct it if necessary.

The pasta should now be ready, so drain it in a colander, making sure to reserve a little of the cooking water.

Toss the pasta through the hot tuna sauce, add the parsley, and mix well. Add a little of the reserved cooking water to ensure the sauce is nicely loos and coating the pasta.

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