Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Pasta nicoise: tortiglioni with seared tuna and black olives.

Tuna pasta usually means tuna from a can - either cooked with a napoli sauce and sludged over spaghetti; or the non-tomato version in which peas nestle in the burrows of pasta shells blanketed with melting cheese.

Both are delicious; but I often make another version using fresh tuna.

Pasta nicoise.

This needs a chunky pasta such as the common rigatoni; I prefer tortiglioni, a similar cylindrical ridged pasta.

Marinate a piece of fresh tuna in lemon juice, chopped garlic, salt and pepper for a short time.

Cook pasta. Meanwhile, sear the tuna in a little olive oil and white wine. When just done, cut into fat cubes.

Trim a dozen green beans, chop into thirds and steam until just done. Do the same with some asparagus spears.

Chop two or three very good vine-ripened tomatoes. If very good tomatoes are not available, use semi-dried ones. The tomatoes can be warmed through or left cold, the latter particularly good for a refreshing spring version of the dish.

When pasta is done, drain, add a little cream and white wine to the pan, reduce, add salt and pepper, return pasta to pan and turn slowly so the ridges pick up the cream sauce.

Gently fold through the beans, asparagus, and tomato. Top with the seared tuna and add some very good black pitted olives and some anchovies. Scatter parsley to serve.

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