I am in the process of transferring my Another Way blog posts.
It is all about the ingredients for this pasta supper.
When I showed my husband the price tag, he almost fell off the sofa. Yes, it is a little bit pricey, but once you taste this glorious oil packed tuna you’ll fall in love. This is definitely NOT your packed-in-spring-water-pasty-nothing-tasting fish. If you decide to make this meal, do not substitute the tuna with anything water packed. The pieces must be solid – not flaky or mushy. The olive oil is also important. If you do use another oil packed tuna, ensure that it is imported and that it is packed in pure olive oil. There are very few ingredients so each one must stand and deliver.
One thing that sets some cuisines like French and Italian apart is their devotion to the quality of each ingredient. No matter how everyday the meal, the components must be top-notch. Here the emphasis is on quality – not quantity. When very good ingredients are used less food is needed to bring on that happy, satisfied feeling.
If you have not yet visited Mandola’s Italian Market in Arlington (The Highlands), go there as quickly as you can. If you’ve been there but only ate the food, you’ve only visited one side of tummy heaven. Tucked off to one side between the front door and the takeout counter is a little grocery where you can buy ingredients for your own Italian home-made meal. I picked up some pasta, a green peppercorn grinder, a red pepper grinder (both dehydrated), capers, and that oil packed tuna.
I like to peel my asparagus instead of breaking off the ends – a tip from Jacques Pepin. That way you only have to cut off the really woody white bits at the bottom and don’t waste as much delicious vegetable. They were placed on a parchment lined cookie sheet, drizzled with olive oil and roasted at 500 for about 20 minutes. Once roasted, they got a little Montreal Style Steak Seasonings, a bit of parmesan cheese, some almond dust*, and freshly ground black pepper.
While the asparagus were roasting, I started heating up the water for 500g of pasta and prepped the rest of the ingredients. I poured the olive oil from the tuna into the serving bowl. To this I added some capers, fresh cracked black pepper, some True Lemon crystallized lemon (wonderful stuff – I use it all the time), and fresh thyme from my garden. I stirred all this together and gave it some time for all the flavors to get to know each other.
When the pasta was almost done, I added the tuna to the bowl and broke it up into large chunks. Just before adding the pasta, I carefully tossed everything together taking care not to break up the tuna. The pasta was poured on and everything was carefully mixed together. The dehydrated green peppercorn grinder came next and the red pepper grinder was used separately by each person to taste. I had some chopped black olives on hand and used it to garnish my dish (pictured above).
To change things up, next time I’ll add some marinated artichokes. I’ll drain and reserve the liquid from a small jar, finely chop the artichokes and add it to the serving bowl with the other ingredients. The marinating liquid will be drizzled over the lower portions of the asparagus just before service.
Leftovers? Except for about 4 asparagus I saved for next day’s lunch – NO SURVIVORS! This served 4 adults who went back for seconds, so I think it could have served at least 6 to 8 with a salad and definitely 8 with a soup course. A roasted tomato soup would have been great.
*Process raw almonds, peanuts, pistachios, etc. (keep separate or mix them up – your choice), to a fine powder and transfer to a sealed container. Keep it in the fridge and you’ll soon find many ways to add raw nuts to your meals!
Images: Launa Virgo
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