Buongiorno amici! It is time for a new recipe and a short video clip. I’ve been working a bit on my video skills, and while I’m certainly not a professional film maker yet, (ha-ha) the bar has been raised a tiny bit. Today’s recipe is what else? Pasta! I once had a tour member who criticized me for giving her pasta too often on a southern Italy tour. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time and was sad that she wasn’t fully embracing the joy of eating in Italy. Seriously people, this is a staple here. Eating pasta daily is normal. I never give my groups the same type of pasta more than once and the dishes I choose are always local to whatever region we are visiting. There is no such thing as too much pasta unless you eat too much and that is a choice!
Today’s recipe is my own take on a Sicilian recipe. I am going to be making a fish ragout using tuna steaks that are cut up into bit sized pieces. It is relatively easy to make but will take about an hour between prep work and cooking. Of course, it is delicious and worth making the effort! Another thing I really like about this recipe, is that you can substitute different types of firm fleshed fish, I often make it with swordfish steaks that I keep in the freezer.
Another thing I really like about this recipe, is that it can be what the Italians call a piatto unico, all-in-one meal. It has vegetables in the form of eggplant and tomatoes, the pasta fills you up and if you want extra fiber it works well with whole wheat or gluten free pasta. The protein you get from the fish will keep you feeling full. We love vegetables in our house, so it is good accompanied by a simple salad or steamed veggies of any sort too. One last note about garlic before I get to the recipe…
It is a common misconception that Italian food uses a lot of garlic. While I use garlic almost daily, it is meant to accentuate the taste of your food, not overwhelm the dish. Garlic is difficult to digest and you know this if you have ever had a meal that keeps you belching garlic for hours. This is something I try to avoid and only use one clove for this recipe but if you want to add more, go ahead. Here is what you will need for four servings.
1 medium sized eggplant
1/2 cup of extra Virgin olive oil
1 large clove of minced garlic (you can add more if you like)
1 can of tomato pulp, finely chopped tomatoes
½ cup of dry white wine
½ cup of water, you can always add more if the sauce dries out too much while cooking.
14 oz. of tuna or swordfish steaks cut into bite sized pieces
2Tbs salted capers well rinsed and roughly chopped
8 leaves of chopped fresh basil
Salt, pepper and crushed red pepper to taste
1 lb of Pasta, I used spaghetti but you can use a short shape too
Begin by washing your eggplant and slicing it into half inch thick slabs. Lay the eggplant out on paper towels, salt them lightly, and put another layer of paper towels over the top. If you put something heavy on top of the eggplant slices, it will help get any of the bitter juices out, leave them like this for about 20 minutes. Once your eggplant has rested, cut it into bite size chunks, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the eggplant which will immediately soak up the oil like a sponge. Fry the Eggplant for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally until it starts to release the oil that it has soaked up.
Add the garlic, tomato, water, tuna, capers, white wine and mix well. Add salt and pepper and crushed red pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally to make sure there is always a bit of liquid. Add the fresh basil just before serving.
Cook the pasta, in a large pot of well salted water, al dente please, don’t overcook it! The beauty of this dish is that you can prepare the sauce ahead of time and reheat it just before adding the pasta.
If you prefer a more liquid sauce, add an extra can of tomatoes. You could also dice a small carrot and saute it after the eggplant has fried before adding the other ingredients. This will cut down on the acidity of the tomatoes and sweeten the sauce a bit. One last variation that is good would be a few tablespoons of olive taggiasche or any good brined olive.
Buona cucina e buon appetito! Please let me know how your pasta turns out with a comment.
P.S. you should know…if you click on a link here and buy something from the Amazon store, (it doesn’t have to be one of the products I recommend) they will share a percentage of the sales with me, and it costs you nothing. This helps me support my family while I am unable to lead tours, so thank you in advance if you choose to do this.