Zuni's Pasta with Preserved Tuna

February  4, 2014
9 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Adapted from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook (which can never be praised enough). Judy Rodgers created the recipe as a way of saving leftover tuna on Sunday. I assume you do not have that problem, but if you do, take the time to preserve the tuna yourself. It isn't hard and it is wonderful; you can find Rodgers's method in the Zuni cookbook. What's below is her adaptation for canned tuna -- good olive oil-packed tuna. As for the pasta: Rodgers recommends penne, ziti, or ditali, but I've made this with spaghetti and perciatelli and I was pleased. Also, while we're being heretical, have I substituted walnuts for the pine nuts before? I have. —Nicholas Day

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Zuni's Pasta with Preserved Tuna
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4
  • 1 pound pasta (see above)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, in thin strips
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (optional, for the sake of small humans)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (optional, for the same reason)
  • 2 garlic cloves, slivered
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons capers, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon preserved lemon, rinsed and chopped (optional)
  • 12 ounces olive oil-packed tuna (slightly more or less is fine)
In This Recipe
  1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil.
  2. In a small skillet, gently warm the olive oil with the lemon zest, bay leaf, chili flakes and black pepper (if using), garlic, and fennel seeds. Cook for about 15 minutes over very low heat to let the flavors infuse the oil. Then add the canned tuna, pine nuts, capers, and preserved lemon (if using). Gently nudge apart the tuna and let it warm up but not cook.
  3. Meanwhile, once the water boils, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well and toss in a serving bowl with the tuna mixture. Serve.

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I'm the author of a book on the science and history of infancy, Baby Meets World. My website is nicholasday.net; I tweet over at @nicksday. And if you need any good playdoh recipes, just ask.