When I made this leek and tuna pasta last night for an easy sups I had no intention of posting this, especially as there are two other versions of this on here already. That was until I tasted it. I just love this time of year for certain vegetables, including leeks that really do come into their own – packed full of flavour. The only way I like them is to pan-fry them over low heat with lots of olive oil until they’re soft, sticky and sort of caramelised. If they have any bite left to them I’m not overly keen. Okay, so the food on the plate looks like glorified baby food. There’s a reason for that: my lower right wisdom tooth is cutting through – again. This has been going on for eight or nine years now. Most of the time they’re dormant, at least. So, it’s just as well I’m really into soups and comfort food, at the moment, as I can’t bite on anything too chewy or crunchy right now.
Leek and Tuna Pasta, with grated Parmesan cheese and parsley
- olive oil
- 300g (10.58 oz) x white and pale green only parts of leeks, trimmed, sliced crossways into discs and thoroughly washed
- 1 x dried bay leaf, ripped
- 1 x 185g or 130g drained weight (6.52 or 4.58 oz drained) can tuna flakes or chunks in brine, well drained
- 1/4 x teaspoon red pepper flakes, more or less to personal taste
- 1/2 x organic vegetable stock cube
- 100ml (0.211 US pt lqd) x cold water
- up to 1/2 x soup ladleful of cooking liquor (from the nearly cooked spaghetti)
- 60 – 80g (2.11 – 2.82 oz) x spaghetti per person, cooked to the pack’s instructions (or a favourite pasta), more to personal taste
- lots of freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano
- fresh parsley, rinsed and finely chopped, to serve
- seasoning, both freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, to serve
- extra virgin olive oil, to serve
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Put a large heavy-based saucepan on electric heat No 2 (out of 6) with a good glug of olive oil. Add the thoroughly washed leeks and bay leaf and cover with a lid for the first 15 minutes, stirring through occasionally. Remove lid and continue to cook for as long as 40 minutes to get the leeks nicely sticky and sort of caramelised, adding a splash or 2 of water if leeks are drying out. Don’t worry if there’s a little bit of scorching as it all adds to the final flavour as the stock will grab all of that sediment.
- If you prefer to stay with the pan then cook the above on moderate heat, stirring through far more often to prevent scorching. Add a splash of water halfway through to prevent the leeks from drying out.
- Push the leeks to the sides and add a glug more oil if necessary. Add the tuna and allow to settle. Again, don’t worry if the tuna catches on base of pan as it is all extra flavour. On lowish heat I would give this 15 minutes or more.
- When the tuna is beginning to turn a little golden in places stir through and push the mixture to the sides. Add a glug more oil, if necessary, and sprinkle over the cayenne pepper. Don’t allow much time for it to infuse. Pour in the water, add the half stock cube, up the heat to No 4 to reach boiling point. Reduce heat to No 1 or 2 to help reduce the sauce. This should have a cling to the pasta consistency only rather than being served wet. If sauce dries out too much add some of the pasta cooking liquor, again allowing more time and upping the heat to reduce to an almost creamy consistency.
- Cook the spaghetti or pasta shapes to the pack’s instructions in plenty of cold water with added sea salt crystals, probably for a minute less than it states on the pack to achieve al dente.
- Remove bay leaf and discard before serving. Serve with lots of grated or shaved Parmesan or Grana Padano. Snip or finely chop some rinsed parsley, sprinkling that over the top of plates. Drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil and eat!
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