Saturday, 27 February 2016

Penne with fresh tuna, tomato, olive and basil

Oh blimey could this colourful little number be any easier to make? Doubt it. And for once, I made it up instead of doing my usual bit of wading through one of my million recipe books or worse, piecing together two or three recipes to pass off as an original. Although if I'm completely honest, I have probably come across it in my wanders and shoved it into some distant recess of my memory. So whoever made this one up, please accept my thanks. 

Fresh tuna is more widely available here than I found in Brisbane. Local supermarket New World routinely stocks it along with fresh Bluff salmon and a lot of fish whose names I am unable to pronounce. I usually just point and say, "Is that the same as barramundi?" and try to avoid the terse look of the shop assistant. 

I bought the tuna on a whim without really thinking through what I'd do with it. It looked all fresh and plump and red and, as a tuna lover from way back when, I snapped it up. And here's what happened when it got into my kitchen...

Serves 4


Penne pasta (I used Barilla wholemeal)
Two fresh tuna fillets
Four tomatoes
1-2 red onions
12 black olives (get the pitted ones, it's more elegant)
12 stuffed green olives (straight from the jar)
1 tablespoon baby capers
4-6 mushrooms
fresh basil leaves (you'll need heaps, and leave them whole)
olive oil, salt and ground black pepper


Cook pasta in lots of boiling salted water. When it's done, drain and then return the pasta to the hot saucepan and stir through some olive oil. Leave it covered.

While the pasta is cooking, throw the tomatoes and some oil into a large pot and cook until the tomatoes are soft and the skin is easy to peel. It may get a bit black in spots but don't worry about that. Peel off the skin and chuck it out, then chop up the tomatoes.

Slice the red onions and cook them up in the same pot as the tomatoes. Check to see if you need a bit more oil.

Once the onion in done, throw the tomatoes back in, along with the pasta, olives, capers and mushrooms and let them all get friendly and warm.

Now for the tuna. It only needs to be cooked for as long as you can hold your breath, even if you're a smoker. Heat up a fry pan till it's pretty warm and then pop in the tuna. I didn't use any oil but that's your call. Set the timer on your phone or your microwave, you only want to cook those bad boys for 30-40 seconds on one side, then 20-30 seconds on the other. Remove from pan and rest them on paper towels for 10 minutes then slice and mix in with the pasta mixture. Stir for a few seconds then dish it out, and cover liberally with fresh basil leaves, black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Add salt to your liking.

Keep any leftovers for lunch the next day, you can eat it cold.

Hope you love it as much as we did xo