Cooking with Nathan : Tuna with Gnocchi

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Or, if you prefer, Gnocchi with Tuna.

I used to buy all my fresh fish at the Rialto Market but, since moving to Dorsoduro, I’ve changed to the fishmonger at Palanca on Giudecca. There are times that I miss the huge variety of choice at Rialto, but Palanca is a lot easier to get to and the guys there are a Great Bunch of Lads as well.

Inevitably, though, I always come back with more fish than I actually need. I once came back with ten red mullet instead of four, as they were about to close and said they’d do me a good deal if I took them all off their hands. Well, it would have been wasting money not to…

Similarly, I recently came back with a humungous piece of tuna that was way, way too much for a meal for two. Now fresh tuna is one of those things that – along with sardines – I think I could kind of just always eat. Nevertheless, it cost a bit and so I thought I should really try and get two meals out of it. So I trimmed away the leanest part of the steak, and griddled it as usual. The rest I put in the freezer for some occasion in the future.

Well, a couple of days ago Caroline arrived back from a day on the beach when I’d been hard at work upon the next book. Neither of us felt like going out, or pizza, and neither did I feel like Big Complicated Cooking. Fortunately, however, we had a packet of fresh gnocchi, the tuna (which I’d thought to take out earlier), and a few staples.

This, then, is a straightforward giovedì gnocchi dish which you can probably knock off in about thirty minutes.

Ingredients (serves two modestly hungry people)

250g fresh gnocchi (I’ve made my own in the past but, really, life is too short)

200g fresh tuna (or more, or less. This is not an exact science)

12 – 18 cherry tomatoes, halved (I started with 12 and decided that wasn’t enough halfway through)

2 tbsp capers, rinsed

12 black olives, stoned/sliced

Method

Oh, this one is easy.

  1. Put a healthy measure of olive oil in a deep pan, and fry the tomatoes for as long as you want. I like them nice and blackened and roasty-tasting. All of this adds plenty of extra flavour and helps to generate the sauce.
  2. Put a pasta pan of salted water on to boil.
  3. When you’re happy with the tomatoes, throw the gnocchi into the pasta pan. They’ll be done when they float to the surface (2-3 minutes)
  4. Add the tuna, olives and capers to the tomatoes and turn up the heat. Keep everything moving around in that nice, tomato-ey sauce.
  5. Drain the gnocchi, and add to the pan. Toss them around for a bit, just to make sure everything’s nicely coated in the sauce, and then dish up (I was going to say ‘plate up’ but, frankly, this isn’t a ‘plating up’ kind of dish). Some torn up basil leaves would have been good as well, but I’d forgotten we had any!
  6. This is, in all modesty, frankly delicious. A chilled, budget red wine is an ideal accompaniment.

    I think this might work equally well with swordfish. Indeed, I’m going to put it to the test tomorrow. You see, the last time I went to the fishmongers they had three nice chunky steaks remaining. I told them I only wanted two. They gave me a sad look and said surely I wasn’t going to leave one piece abbandonato…?

    And so, of course, there is a spare swordfish steak in the freezer….

    Happy eating everyone!

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