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Lemon Spaghetti with Tuna

April 25, 2007

Lemon Spaghetti with Tuna

This is yet another Giada pasta dinner. My affection for Everyday Italian has been increasing lately, and I suspect tonight’s dinner will be pulled from its pages as well. The only change I made, to make it seem just a little more substantial, was adding tuna (well, and forgetting the basil) but even with tuna this was an simple, quick, light, summery dinner, perfect for these early days of spring. Also, the tuna steak I bought at the hippy mart was the biggest danged tuna steak I’ve ever seen.

I often worry that these pasta recipes with all of, like, two ingredients are going to be boring, but they never are. I was worried that this pasta would be overwhelmingly lemony, but it wasn’t. Its only drawback is that it looks boring, and it wouldn’t even look boring if I hadn’t forgotten the basil. Besides which, the only people who care if food looks boring are chefs and food bloggers, and I’m starting to get so obsessive about it that I often let food get cold while I’m taking pictures and arranging prettiness. I should just accept the fact that the food I’m actually planning to eat probably won’t ever look as nice as the food in the pages of Bon Appetit and just enjoy my meals already.

But I digress. This is perfect summer pasta, and one of the rare recipes that I think really does call for spaghetti, rather than another shape of pasta. I generally don’t like to eat strand pastas, because I’m messy enough with food as it is. But sometimes spaghetti just works better, and at least with this dish there is no very visible red sauce to flick all over the place as you try to shove wily strings of pasta into your mouth.

Lemon Spaghetti with Tuna

  • 1/3 c. plus 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/3 c. grated parmesan
  • juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lb. of spaghetti
  • 6 oz. tuna steak
  • 1/2 c. chopped fresh basil

Put a big pot of salted water on to boil, and prepare the lemon sauce in a large mixing bowl. Basically, you just have to put the 1/3 a cup of olive oil, the parmesan, lemon juice, and a bit of salt and pepper into the bowl and whisk it for a bit until it mixes together. I suppose if you’re feeling fancy, you could add the olive oil last, in a thin stream, while you’re whisking like a mad man, to create an emulsification, but I don’t have much patience for that kind of thing. As evidenced by my terrible aioli disaster Monday night.

Lemony goodness

Once the water is boiling and you’ve stuck in your spaghetti to cook up, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet. Sprinkle both sides of the tuna with salt and pepper, and stick it in the heated skillet. Now, I was planning on flaking the tuna into the pasta, so I didn’t want too much rawness. I cooked each side until I could see no pink on the edges, probably about four or five minutes on each side. It was perfect–still lovely and pink in the middle, but not raw, and not dried out.

Rest the tuna on a cutting board and drain the tuna, saving 1/3 a cup or so of the pasta water. Toss the spaghetti in the mixing bowl with the lemon sauce, adding as much of the pasta water as you need to start melting the cheese up and making it more saucy. Then flake the tuna, add it and the lemon zest and the basil to the spaghetti, and toss it all together. If you want to get fancy, you can garnish the top with a little extra basil, or even some of the flaked bits of tuna.

This would probably be great with some grape tomatoes, or maybe some blanched asparagus. Or baby arugula, to add a little bit of bite. Yeah, see, I can never just let a simple pasta dish be a simple pasta dish. I always have to add greenery. Sigh.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 26, 2007 5:37 pm


    I just asked Hubbs if he’d be opposed to lemon spaghetti with tuna and he said, “Let’s just say I’d try it and leave it at that” WOOO! That’s a go for me!


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