Lemon Tuna Pasta
Cook Time: ~20 minutes
This recipe should really be called “Mother’s Lemon Tuna Pasta” because it’s a dish that I ate regularly growing up; and is one that I distinctly remember wolfing down every time it was served. I have embellished it slightly, but this recipe is simple and ultra-satisfying and possesses a sense of nostalgia for me. The best pasta dishes are often the simplest. I will add that the dish must contain an element of heat to it so, if you can, don’t avoid the chillis.
Time: ~20 Minutes
Information - What you require
• Spaghetti pasta (~200g)
• Tuna (~300g)
• Flat leaf parsley (~30g)
• Parmigiano reggiano (~100g)
• Chilli (as per spice tolerance)
• Two garlic cloves
• A fat knob of butter
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Ground black pepper & salt
Optional Ingredients & Notes
• Chilli: I would suggest 2-3 chillies if you are someone with a mild spice tolerance.
• Chillie flakes and oil: Both make for great serving garnishes.
• One small pan
• One large pot
• Cheese grater
Mise En Place - Food preparation
Drain and decant the tuna. Finely chop parsley. Zest and juice a whole lemon. Slice garlic and chilli finely. Cut one fat knob of butter. Grate the parmesan on the finest setting.
First, bring a pot of salted water to a boil in a large cooking pot. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and add your spaghetti. Turning regularly to avoid sticking, this will cook for 12-15 minutes depending on how you prefer your pasta (my personal preference for this dish is to have soft pasta).
While the pasta cooks heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan then add sliced garlic. Turn and fry for 2 minutes, add sliced chilli and the tuna, and turn the heat down to low. The objective here is to gently warm through the tuna, retain some moisture, and not burn it. After 4-5 minutes, throw in half of the parsley, half of the lemon zest, and mix. Season the tuna with a pinch of salt and ground black pepper, and set aside on the lowest heat (or no heat at all) until the pasta is finished.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain it (I find that adding a dash of olive oil in the sieve helps prevent sticking) and keep aside some of the pasta water. Place your knob of butter into the large cooking pot for 30 seconds, followed by the drained pasta, parmesan (keep some aside for garnish), the rest of your parsley, and the tuna. Mix the ingredients together until the butter and parmesan melt into the pasta and pour in the lemon juice before mixing again. If you find the pasta is dry or stodgy, sparingly add some of the pasta water to counter it.
To serve, sprinkle over chilli flakes, parmesan, parsley, and (if you have it) a hearty drizzle of chilli oil.
If you do attempt this dish, please let me know how it goes, and if you variate the recipe in any way. Also, this newsletter relies upon word of mouth, so if you feel you know someone who would enjoy this publication please share it.
Thanks for reading,
Chilli oil, in my opinion, is a must-have garnish for every kitchen. It goes well on salads, pizza, pasta, and soups, making for an exciting alternative to a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. To make, buy 500ml of quality extra virgin oil, gently heat inside a pan (no bubbling) and add in ~75 to 100g of chilli flakes and stir. If you have red wine vinegar, a tablespoon of that would be a welcome addition too. After stirring the chilli flakes for a minute or so, decant the chilli oil into a jar to cool down, and voilà you have some chilli oil. The longer it is stored, the richer the flavour and heat will become.