We had something very similar in a Sicilian restaurant the other night. Only the pasta used was pappardele. As soon as I tried it, I was itching to recreate it at home. As luck would have it, I chanced upon a promotion of fresh tuna at the supermarket. With the taste still fresh in my memory, I hurried home to prepare the tuna pasta sauce. I didn't have any pappardelle at home so my closest candidate was calamarata. Originally from the Campana region of Italy (where Naples is), it is reminiscent of calamari rings and for that it got its name. It goes well with tomato-based seafood sauce.
I liked the version I did. It's very similar to the one that we had at the restaurant but not exactly the same. I can imagine the chef who cooked it at the restaurant saying, "Tsk! Tsk! Nice try, but you didn't get it, did you?" What I think is that I put more fresh tuna than the restaurant & less tomato sauce when they did the contrary. The fennel seeds were unmistakably there. I tried to dissect the taste in my mouth and inconspicuously gave a visual analysis to understand the ingredients. Now that just sounds exactly what someone would do with a scientific experiment. The only thing missing is taking out a miscroscope.
Whatever the result was, whether it's similar or totally different from what I originally tasted, the important thing is that my whole family loved their meal. That is what cooking is all about anyway. So I won't scratch this one out because I didn't reach my goal. I'm adding it instead to the list of recipes because it is worth keeping and redoing.
Calaramata with Fresh Tuna, Fennel & Tomatoes
- 400 grams fresh tuna, diced
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar & pestle
- 1/2 onion, chopped finely
- 400 grams cannned tomatoes
- Bunch of parsley, chopped finely
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Boil water for the pasta. When it boils, add the salt. Cook according to the number of minutes suggested in the package.
- Meantime, over medium heat, sautè the onions in a saucepan with extra virgin olive oil.
- Add the tuna. Cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt & pepper. Add the crushed fennel seeds. Take away half of the tuna. Set aside. Crush the remaining tuna in the saucepan with a fork.
- Add the tomato sauce. Cook for half an hour. If the sauce is drying up, ladle some water from the pot you are boiling for the pasta.
- Add the other half of tuna. Adjust salt & pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes.
- Mix the cooked pasta with the sauce. Add the parsley. Cook together for a couple of minutes.
- Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil before serving.