Monday, November 14, 2005

Recipe Blogging: Spaghetti with Tuna and Capers

Some hideous grunge I’ve been fighting has left me with a nasty cough that keeps me up most of the nights these last two weeks hacking my lungs out.  Yeesh, I thought hacking coughs were history when I kicked a two pack a day smoking habit years ago.  Bogus.

I’ve felt lousy and been tired enough that I haven’t done a lot of creative cooking, but things are gradually getting better, enough so that last night I returned to a great dish that’s wonderful in its simplicity: Spaghetti with Tuna and Capers. 

As with any simple dish, this is all about the quality of what you throw in the pot.  Starkist or Bumble Bee tuna are fine in their own rights (I have two small kids.  Tuna is a staple here.), but you need something fancier to really kick this dish up.  Look for Genova tuna at Trader Joe’s or a semi-fancier store.  If you can foot the tarrif, order some of the amazing stuff Zingerman’s carries.  It’s a small tin for something like $10 per, but it is absolutely stunning and perfect for something like this. 

The capers in this dish are just as important.  Look up salt-packed capers, not brined.  You can find them at a good Italian food store, fancier yuppie grocieries like Whole Foods or Dorothy Lane Market here in Dayton.

Without further ado,

Spaghetti con Tonno e Capperi (Serves 4 – 6)

spaghetti for 4 - 6 (That’s roughly one of my hands a bit less than full.  I never measure.  Sorry.)

~ 3 Tbs. best-quality extra virgin olive oil

1 can best-quality tuna

2 Tbs. salt-packed capers, rinsed and soaked in water

1 small clove garlic, finely minced

toasted bread crumbs (optional)

  • Cook the spaghetti  in a large pot of salted, boiling water.
  • While the spaghetti is cooking, prepare the tuna.  In a large serving bowl, pour in the olive oil, then add the tuna, breaking up it into small chunks.  Stir in the capers and garlic.
  • When the pasta’s done, drain it well and dump the piping hot pasta into the bowl.  Stir well to mix.  The heat from the pasta will cook the garlic just a tiny bit and spread its love throughout the oil and pasta.
  • Dust with a bit of toasted breadcrumbs if you like, but please avoid cheeses you might normally grate over pasta — they’re too strong and will dull the great flavors from the tuna and capers.  At least give it a try.  Trust me.

NOTES:  That’s all there is to it.  Simplicty rules here.  Use a very light hand with the garlic, and don’t use any salt to season the pasta — there’s plenty in the capers, even if you’ve rinsed and soaked them well.

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