Recipe: Cavatelli with Fresh Tuna, Marsala, and Rosemary
I don’t know about you, but I find it extremely hard to keep up with the lists of endangered, semi-endangered, or just plain bad-for-your-health fish. I do consult the seafood selector set up by the Environmental Defense Fund, which tells you to stay away from bluefin tuna and imported shrimp. I find yellowfin tuna at my Greenmarket and grab it, but I also break down and buy small chunks of bluefin now and then. The best way to make a little go a long way is by including it in a pasta sauce.
I made this tuna pasta twice. The first go-round I quick-seared the tuna chunks, trying to keep them very pink in the middle, and added them to the sauce at the last minute. I liked the way it cooked up, but by the time I brought the dish to the table, the tuna had cooked through and was not as tender as I would have wanted, thanks to its initial high-heat treatment. Next time, I just dropped the tuna pieces into a very low-simmering sauce and let them gently cook through. That produced a more tender tuna and a nicer result, more like a fish ragu. I kind of missed the seared taste from the first try, but I concluded that all in all the gentle simmer is the way to go.
And for your listening pleasure:
Cavatelli with Fresh Tuna, Marsala, and Rosemary
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 small jalapeño pepper, minced, with the seeds
2 large sprigs rosemary, the leaves chopped
1 shotglass dry Marsala
½ pound cavatelli
1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, chopped, with the juice
½ pound, or a little less, yellowfin or bluefin tuna steak, cut into approximately ½-inch cubes
A handful of toasted pine nuts
A smaller handful of Sicilian capers
A handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, very lightly chopped
Put up a pot of pasta cooking water, and bring it to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt.
In a large skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium flame. Add the garlic and the jalapeño, and sauté for a minute to release their flavors. Add the rosemary, and sauté for a few seconds to allow some of its oil to escape. Add the Marsala, and let it bubble until almost dry.
Drop the cavatelli into the water.
Add the tomatoes, seasoning with a little salt, and simmer at a lively boil for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to very low, and add the tuna, stirring the pieces around in the sauce for a few seconds. Turn off the heat, and take the skillet off the stove. The heat from the sauce will finish cooking the tuna. Add the pine nuts and capers. Taste for seasoning.
When the cavatelli is al dente, pour it into a warmed serving bowl. Drizzle it with fresh olive oil, and add the parsley. Give it a toss. Add the tuna sauce, and toss again. Serve right away.