cavatelli with tuna and lemon

I’ve been working like a maniac lately. Trying to get the App finished, a couple of articles, 2 book proposals and a project for my publishing company, One Book Press. So, as you can imagine, grocery shopping hasn’t been at the top of my list of things to do.

So, Sunday lunch rolled around and it was time to go the pantry and – as my mother would say – see ‘what’s what’. Luckily there’s still quite a bit of ‘what’s wha’t left over from the Salone.

I realized I still hadn’t used the fantastic can of tuna I bought. And if you’re asking yourself how I can describe a can of tuna as fantastic, that means you’ve never had ventresca tuna. This is a cut of tuna from the belly, and so very tender, very fatty and extremely tasty. It’s always packaged in flat cans, to preserve the shape of the filets intact, and always packed in olive oil.

And for some reason, whatever the brand, this kind of tuna always has fantastic, old fashioned labels. So of course I bought a few.

Since it was Sunday lunch, pasta was a given. I thought about doing something with tomato sauce, but didn’t want to overwhelm this extraordinary can of tuna. So I kept things simple, A few olives and capers, some lemon (juice and zest) from a tree on our terrace. A bit of garlic, loads of olive oil. And the package of cavatelli I picked up along the autostrada on the way back from Bari (my favorite source of cavatelli and orecchiette).

Cavatelli with Tuna and Lemon
Serves 4

I find this dish works best with pasta like cavatelli or orecchiete. Pastas that are made from grano duro, and that stay firm, and don’t absorb too much sauce.

1 Lemon
400 grams of cavatelli
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
16 black olives, pitted
2 tablespoons capers*
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Ventresca Tuna (100 gr)

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, then add pasta.

In meantime, in a large bowl, place olives, capers, garlic, oil, red pepper, lemon zest and juice. Stir well. Add the tuna, broken into large chunks.

When pasta is cooked al dente, drain, reserving a half cup of the cooking water. Add pasta to the bowl with the tuna mixture, and toss gently. Add a bit of the cooking water to moisten. Add parsley and toss. Serve.

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  1. says

    I believe it is your step father that says What’s What. I on the other hand would say “clean out the pantry pasta”

    Really looks good. Would it work with our run of the mill canned tuna?

  2. says

    Simple and delicious! I always have capers, olives and tuna in my kitchen.

    I have never bought cavatelli pasta. I will be on the look out for it. Is there a store in Rome that sells it?

    I have seen the light regarding tuna and will never eat the kind packed in water ever again.

  3. says

    My Italian GM raised a large family, with limited means. One of her staples was homemade cavatelli — they went far, and they were delicious. For some reason, my father and his sibs gave them the nick name “rats”. My mother tells a funny story that when she first met my father, he asked her to come for dinner. “My mom is making rats.” She politely declined the offer. She later realized what she missed out on!

  4. says

    Un primo piatto semplice ma davvero gustoso. La ventresca di tonno in filetti interi è decisamente un altro mondo rispetto all’universo degli anonimi tonni in scatola. Quasi quasi mi stai dando un ottima idea per pranzo…

  5. says

    @Elizabeth: Unfortunately, my beloved GM is no longer here, so I will never know. One thing is for sure though: her children were well fed, well taken care of, and remember her fondly.

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