There are times when I simply can't bear to cook anything complicated. I don't think I'm alone on this. So, it's good to discover a very fast, and delicious recipe. And there it was, in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, often thought way too complicated for ordinary people. I've found amazingly easy recipes, and great reading in it, and this is one of them. Actually, this is a simplified recipe, suggested by the author of the cookbook, Judy Rodgers. I would love to fix a confit of preserved bluefin tuna and toss it with pasta as she did. And some day I will. But, I took the author's recommendation for an easier version and used excellent Italian canned tuna packed in oil. It was combined with a "sludge" of pine nuts, bay leaf, lemon zest, capers, garlic, fennel and cumin seed steeped in olive oil, then tossed with my favorite pasta--gemelli. It was a marvelous dish. Each mouthful had a slightly different taste. One minute it was the fennel, then it was garlic and capers. And it was so simple, not taxing at all. So, if you are of faint spirits lately, here is a nice dish for you. It's also perfect for Presto Pasta Night, which was created by the lovely Ruth at Once Upon A Feast. Check out all the pasta dishes at her site.
(The Zuni Cafe Cookbook)
1/2 Tablespoon lemon zest cut from the lemons in thin strips, then chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
1 large garlic clove, slivered
1/8 teaspoon fennel
a big pinch of cumin seed (optional, I added it by mistake and liked it very much)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste
Warm the oil and add all of the ingredients and cook over the very lowest flame for 15 minutes. Don't let it burn. Set it aside when it's done.
Fixing the pasta
12 ounces of excellent canned tuna packed in oil, drained
2 Tablespoons capers, squeezed dry and roughly chopped or 2 Tablespoons green olives roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon preserved lemon drained and chopped (optional)
1/3 cup cut pine nuts, toasted gently in a dry skillet (be careful, they burn easily)
1 Lb. penne, ziti or gemelli pasta
Stir the tuna into the oil, smashing up a few spoonfuls of the tuna into flakes, to makes a sauce that adheres to the pasta. Leave the rest of the tuna a bit larger. Add the capers or olives, pine nuts and preserved lemon and stir to combine. Toss with cooked pasta and serve immediately..