CLASSIC pasta capellini with tuna (or spaghettini)








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This delicious recipe started with a Christmas stocking gift from our daughter-in-law (above) -- delicious tuna in excellent oil. This tuna is actually from Spain.

We looked around for a simple and perfect pasta dish to use this tuna in as pure a way we could. We found a number of fine recipes, many with tomato, all good but not the pure perfection we wanted. Finally we discovered this one, which actually creates a slightly creamy sauce of tuna without using cream. The quality of the oil is very important.

Here we use the fresh egg version of angel hair pasta, or capellini. (see how to make fresh egg pasta). We did the home-made egg version, and using the smaller cuts on our pasta machine we got a pasta that was a little thicker than pure capellini, but still a thinness we liked. This is a very delicate pasta, and is wonderful with seafood. But it does need careful watching to keep it al dente. Easy to go too far.

This dish also works well with thin spaghetti -- spaghettini.

for the sauce:

  • three tablespoons olive oil
  • five garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • one-half teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ten to twelve ounces of canned tuna, with oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • three tablespoons of parsley, chopped

for the pasta:

  • one pound freshly-made angel hair egg pasta (or spaghettini)

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and let it sizzle. Add the tuna and cook over medium high heat, constantly breaking up the tuna into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Add a teaspoon of salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir. Set aside.

Heat 4-5 quarts of cold water to a raging boil, add a tablespoon or so of salt, drop in the pasta, stir to mix and separate it. This pasta should be done in less than a minute! Reserve a cup of the pasta liquid.

Return the sauté pan to medium heat. Add the pasta and two tablespoons of the chopped parsley. Toss. Add enough of the reserved pasta liquid so there is a creamy sauce. The pasta should not be dry. Toss quickly again. Also dribble in a little more olive oil, to really add a touch of moisture to the dish.

At this point, we cover the pasta and sauce, turn the heat to high, and steam for sixty seconds. The pasta must have been truly al dente, or it will get too soft with this additional maneuver. Serve immediately, with the parsley as garnish, in heated bowls.


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