My famiglia's delicious pasta dish served every Christmas Eve (La Vigilia di Natale) along with seven to nine other fish dishes in celebration of the birth of baby Jesus. I love this meal and this recipe is so versatile, it can become a favorite weeknight meal for you and your famiglia. —cucina di mammina
cans of solid white tuna packed in olive oil (I prefer the Genova brand from Italy)
large garlic clove, peeled and cut into chunks
salt and pepper to taste
capers in brine
fresh italian flat leaf parsley
box imported italian spaghetti (use a brand that you prefer)
whole lemon, zested and juiced
ground red chili flakes to taste
In This Recipe
Place a large stockpot of water to boil and salt the water.
In large nonstick skillet, add the canned tuna (drain most of the oil from the cans first) and break the pieces up a bit.
Drizzle about 1/3 cup or more of olive oil into the tuna and add the chopped garlic to the mix.
Let this cook on medium low heat until you start to smell the aroma of the garlic and the tuna is tender and sizzling a bit. Remove from heat and set aside (remove the garlic from the mix and discard.)
When the water comes to a full boil, add the spaghetti and stir immediately so they do not stick. Continue to cook and stir until they are “al dente” to your taste.
Reserve some of the cooking water (in a bowl) and set aside. Drain the pasta and set aside with a light drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking.
Return the large skillet with the cooked tuna mixture back to medium heat; add the drained cooked spaghetti and mix well as it comes to heat.
Heat this mixture slowly, stirring often while adding a bit of the cooking pasta water to create a sauce that will coat the pasta well. Once this is incorporated remove from the heat and add to your taste preference, the capers, lemon juice, lemon zest, large bunch of freshly chopped parsley leaves and the chili flakes to taste.
Note: Many people like to add grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese to this dish at the finish, it is quite common in Italy to see a variety of fish dishes made with cheese. I happen to prefer this dish without cheese as I love to savor the tuna and seasonings without the richness. Please do as your taste buds dictate as there really is no right or wrong here