Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Spaghetti in basil & tuna pesto - Simple Italian Dinner

 I remember the first time I was initiated to the world of pesto. That first bottle of basil pesto sunk two inches deep in a thick film of olive oil must have attained the most-satisfying moksha as far as basil pesto bottles go. Because I used it on practically anything Italian from salads to grilled fish dishes and everything (read pasta) in between. And I discovered, to my absolute delight, that basil pesto is a delightful accompaniment to the humble, homegrown curd rice.

Not too long after, I stumbled upon fresh basil leaves in the supermarket and tried my first pesto from the scratch. Seriously, once you try and make basil pesto at home (which is not all that difficult, I tell you. Only if you find making chutneys difficult at home that is.), your hands will never hover over the pesto bottles in supermarket shelves deciding on which brand to settle. But again, it depends on the availability of fresh basil in the city you live.

Basil is a hardy herb that loves sunshine. It works as a great indoor plant as well. If you get a sapling, you can have a steady supply of fresh basil leaves in a tropical country like India. Seeds are easy to germinate and once you have a plant, they easily reproduce and sustain your kitchen needs.

This recipe is inspired by an episode of Jamie’s 15-minute meals but heavily adapted to work around the non-availability of ingredients (say for instance canned anchovies that I could just not find anywhere). I substituted canned tuna flakes in brine. The result was a mildly tuna flavored pasta with the roasted tomatoes and garlic giving it just the required amount of tang and crunchy spiciness. 

Ingredients you need (serves 2):

Spaghetti – 150 gms
Canned tuna in brine – ½ can (100 gms)
Fresh basil leaves – 1 cup
Almonds – 5
Cheese – just enough to garnish
Cherry tomatoes – 15 to 20 or 3 regular ripe tomatoes
Garlic – 4 cloves unpeeled
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Pepper – as required
Salt – as required

This spaghetti is super simple to make!

How to prepare:

  • Set a pot of water to boil. When it boils, add salt and a teaspoon of cooking oil.
  • Take a heavy bottomed pan, slit each cherry tomatoes or quarter the regular ones. Smash the cloves of garlic with the side of a knife. Mix with the tomatoes some olive oil, salt and pepper and keep it in a preheated oven for roasting for 15 to 20 minutes at 1800 C. 
  • Meanwhile, throw in the basil leaves, almonds and half of the required tuna and some salt in your food processor and grind to a paste.
  • Cook the spaghetti al dente and drain it in a colander. Add the pesto to the spaghetti and toss well.
  • Add the rest of the tuna, salt and pepper to adjust the taste.
  • Add the roasted tomatoes and garlic on top of the spaghetti.
  • Garnish with cheese and serve.
Tip: Let the dish sit for 5 minutes before you serve so the basil loses its raw taste. However, if you are using pesto from a bottle, you can serve it immediately. This pasta tastes great as a leftover too. 

Note: The header you see on the blog is picture in this post.

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