Pasta with tuna – kicking up the spice

I thought I’d posted about Marcella Hazan‘s pasta with tuna before, but apparently I haven’t. It’s very simple indeed and requires the best ingredients – imported Italian tuna in olive oil, superb olive oil of your own, San Marzana tomatoes and good butter:

4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic chopped very fine
1 1/2 cups canned San Marzano tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
12 ounces imported Italian tuna packed in olive oil
Black pepper ground fresh from the mill
1 tbs butter
1 1 1/2 pounds pasta
3 tbs chopped parsley

In a saucepan heat the olive oil, add the garlic and cook until it becomes colored a pale yellow. Add the cut up tomatoes with their juice, stir to coat them well, and cook at a gentle but steady simmer for 25 minutes, or until the tomatoes float free of their juices.

Drain the tuna and crumble it thoroughly with a fork. Turn off the heat under the tomatoes, add the tuna, and mix well. Taste, and if necessary, correct for salt. Add a few grindings of pepper, the 1 tbs of butter, and mix well again. Toss with drained cooked pasta with a few more drops of olive oil. Add the chopped parsley, toss again, and serve immediately.

This is great so far as it goes, and it absolutely requires the best ingredients. But what if you don’t have those around – you just have Chicken of the Sea, your olive oil is a few months old, or you feel like you need something with a bit more kick?

The following changes retain the spirit of the recipe but make it more complex and, to my mind, more satisfying:

РChop 1 jalapeno finely along with 8 sage leaves, and saut̩ these along with the garlic
– Discard the tomato juice in the can, and using your hands, squeeze most of the juice out of each of the tomatoes

The result is highly concentrated. I recommend spaghetti for this dish.

By the way, don’t forget the butter at the end. It’s essential for knitting the flavors together. I use Lurpak or President.