The road less travelled....Recipe for Tuna fungghi aglio olio linguine topped with basil pesto





“Simplicity. The pure desire to take great ingredients and try very very hard not to screw them up” Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations at Venice

Well here I was not only playing with ingredients but also, at the risk of upsetting Monicca Belucci, the cooking traditions of Italy.

Kainaz likes creamy cheese and red meat laden penne pastas. Pastas, which as Chef Max once told me, are more at home in the colder climes of North Italy, where the body needs every beat of heat that can be gathered. Sunny Sicily and the Mediterranean, on the other hand, Chef Max said, revel in spaghettis and other pastas which are drenched in olive oil and decked with sea food. K doesn’t like these understated pastas. I, on the other hand prefer lighter spaghettis, as they are closer to the dryish Chinese stir fried noodles that Iheart. Then Ranjit, my personal Santa Claus, gave us some spaghetti and linguine and shrimp paste. So I thought of ways to make our cream pasta lover open up to Mediterranean spaghetti and linguine.

Linguine courtesy Ranjit


I realised that I needed a dish that was full flavoured. Like an aglio olio (olive oil and chilli) based pasta. But would K find that too dry as she had in the past? And then I thought, what if I got in some heavy artillery? A full flavoured basil pesto? How would do the two combine? This pairing was not de rigueur after all.
I shopped, went to the kitchen, took out the mortar and pestle. I didn’t have a plan. But as I pounded away, playing with ingredients in my head, shrouded by the heady aromas of basil, garlic, olive oil, cheese, white wine, I knew that something good was cooking.

What follows is how I put together my tuna and fungghi inguine aglio olio topped with basil pesto

Authentic Italian? Not really. But the dish paid full homage to the cooking traditions of Italy. An hour to pound and to get the base ready. I have a feeling that the Italian granny in Bourdain’s Venice episode, who said that she would only go to a restaurant which showed ‘passion and patience’, would possibly approve of this.

And guess what, K approved of the final result.

Recipe

Prep:




Basil Pesto Mix:

-          4,5 peeled garlic pods in a mortar. Pound with a pestle
-          Add a tablespoon of pine nuts to this. Pound them
-          Add a handful of finely chopped basil leaves to this and pound
-          Add a tablespoon of parmesan. Pound. I didn’t have parmesan at home so used Pecorina from Australia. An equally sharp cheese
-          Add 2 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Pound
-          Tip: move from dry to wet ingredients while pounding. Cut into small bits and use short jabs to avoid spraining your back. Or put everything into a food processor and blend if you are not man enough

Basil pesto mix
 

Aglio Olio Mix (chilli, garlic, olive oil):

-          4,5 peeled garlic pods in a mortar. Pound with a pestle
-          Add 3,4 finely chopped bird’s eye (red) chillies. Pound
-          Add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Pound
-          You could again do this in a food processor

Aglio olio mix

 

Tuna and funghii sauce

-          Add 250 g of chopped boiled button mushrooms to the aglio olio mix. Pound
-          Add a can of tuna preserved in olive oil to this. Blend this in with a spoon. The fish is soft and you don’t need to pound this




Mushroom and tuna aglio olio base

 

And finally, ‘cook’
-         
- Heat tuna and funghii sauce mix in a pan
-          Add a cup of white wine to this and heat on a medium flame for 2 minutes. Don’t let it come to a boil. We had some left over SA Cabernet Sauvignon in the fridge which I used.
-          Add in the boiled linguine (200 g for 2). You could use spaghetti too. Add salt. About a tablespoon or so and slowly stir and let it cook for 3,4 minutes
-          Take out the pasta and put it on a plate
-          Crown the pasta with the pesto.  That is, put the pesto mix on the top of the pasta





 

Leave the combining of the two sauces to the diner’s discretion. They can either mix the pesto into the pasta and eat. Or take dabs of the pesto mix with each mouthful of pasta. I did both. 

The magic of the dish for me lay in our creamy pasta fan’s stamp of approval.

What better way to bring in Sunday than in a house filled with the sharp yet mesmerising and intoxicating aromas of basil pesto?

And the knowledge that you had not ‘screwed up’.
9