A visit to my favourite fish shop in Malta led me to fresh tuna, which at the moment is available in abundance and incredibly cheap.
What I miss most about the Mediterranean is sea urchins or what we call in Maltese rizzi and in Italian ricci. I have been dreaming of a Spaghetti ai Ricci for a rather long time now. It is the thing I probably miss most from my home country
But alas it was not available at my fish shop and it seems unlikely to be available anytime soon (probably the restaurants at this time of year buy whatever they can find given it is peak tourist season).
There was an incredible choice but given the fact that the fresh tuna looking incredibly good, I opted for penne with tuna. The following is the recipe.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- 500 grammes fresh tuna diced
- 500 grammes pasta (I choose penne but you can also opt for something else)
- 2 garlic cloves
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 24 green olives chopped
- 4 fresh tomatoes
- 60 grammes slivered almonds
- 125ml of white wine
- A handful of fresh basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon sugar.
1. Boil enough water for the pasta. I normally calculate around 1 litre for every 100 grammes of pasta.
2. When tuna is in season, fresh tomatoes are also in season therefore use fresh tomatoes for this recipe. I normally pierce the tomatoes and place them in boiling water for 30 seconds. They can then be peeled very easily. Remove the seeds and then chop finely.
3. Chop the garlic. Pan fry the garlic in around 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Just before it starts to colour add the tomatoes and stir. Add the sugar and salt and pepper to taste and stir occasionally for around 10 minutes.
4. While the tomato sauce is cooking, finely dice the tuna and slice the olives. Add the olives to the sauce after around 10 minutes.
5. In another pan, brown the slivered almonds making sure they do not burn. If you are using a non-stick pan you do not need to add anything. (You can also do it in a grill but make sure they do not burn). Once they have a golden colour remove from the heat.
6. Throw the pasta into the boiling water (that has been adequately salted) and cook according to instructions. (For al dente pasta, I always stop the cooking at least one minute before the instructions since I mix the pasta to the sauce and continue cooking for around a minute).
7. Once the pasta is cooking, add the tuna to the sauce and the white wine and increase the heat to medium. You should make sure that the tuna is not overcooked. Once the tuna has coloured keep the sauce warm. Add the slivered almonds and shredded basil and season to taste.
8. Drain the pasta and then add to the sauce and continue cooking for around 1 minute. Serve immediately with an additional drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to taste.
Wine suggestion: It is summer and this is a summery pasta dish with fresh Mediterranean ingredients. Tuna is a versatile fish which can even be enjoyed with a light red wine. However my recommendation would be a nice Sicilian white wine. A blend of Chardonnay and Insolia (the Angimbe from Cusumano for example) would work wonders with this dish. Most pasta dishes marry well with Italian wines. Another option for a white wine would be a Falanghina from the Campania region. A Vermentino from Sardegna or Tuscany would also work well.