This pasta dish is full of strong flavours that make it so attractive; the tuna especially helps it stand out. Caper berries are the fruit of the plant that produces capers. They are long-stemmed and excellent in salads as well as pastas. They are not as salty or as tart as capers and should be rinsed before using. Use capers if the berries are unavailable.
8 ounces (250 grams) spaghetti
1/4 cup olive oil
8 ounces (250 grams) tuna cut in 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 teaspoon chopped anchovies
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 cup dry vermouth or white wine
2 tablespoons chopped black olives
2 tablespoons caper berries
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Cook pasta in boiling salted water, according package directions. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in non-stick skillet over high heat. Season tuna with salt and pepper and sear, turning frequently, for 45 seconds or until lightly browned but still rare in the centre. Remove skillet and reserve.
Add 2 tablespoons oil to skillet and reduce heat to medium. Add onions, garlic, anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes, chili flakes and grated lemon rind and sauté for 2 minutes or until onions are softened. Add vermouth and bring to a boil. Add olives, caper berries and parsley and simmer for 1 minute or until flavours have come together.
Toss pasta with sauce and seared tuna. Drizzle in pasta cooking water and remaining 1 tablespoon oil and toss until well combined.
Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a main course.
From February 21, 2009 The Globe and Mail Saturday Style Section's Weekend Menu by Lucy Waverman