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Tuna, Tuna Roe and Spaghetti - Tonno, Uove di Tonno, e Spaghetti

I cannot praise this dish enough; for me it is a satisfying reminder of wonderful days spent in Sicily. I preserve fresh tuna in olive oil and keep it in the refrigerator for up to two months to quickly satisfy my craving for it. Salted tuna roe, available in seafood stores, makes the flavors even more intense. Use salted anchovies if tuna roe is not available.



1/2 pound fresh tuna

2 bay leaves

1 lemon, sliced

3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

About 3/4 cup Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil


1 recipe Preserved Tuna with 1/2 cup olive oil (from the tuna)

1 medium white onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup minced flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or more to taste

Fine sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste

1 pound spaghetti

2 tablespoons grated tuna roe (bottarga)


Place the tuna, 1 bay leaf, and the lemon slices in a nonreactive pot. Cover with salted water, bring to a simmer, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tuna flakes easily with a fork. Drain the tuna and let it cool.

Cut the tuna into chunks and place in a sterilized 1-pint jar. Add the remaining bay leaf and salt and pepper. Cover with the olive oil, making sure that the tuna is totally covered. Cap the jar and let marinate overnight at room temperature.

The following day, check the level of the oil. Add more if needed to cover the tuna completely. Cap the jar and store it in the refrigerator until needed. (Use within 2 months.) Bring to room temperature before serving.

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, and red pepper and sauté until the garlic starts to soften. Add the tuna, breaking it up with a fork. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain well. Place the spaghetti on a warm serving platter.

Pour the sauce over the spaghetti and toss well. Sprinkle the tuna roe over the top and serve immediately.

This recipe is from CELEBRATIONS ITALIAN STYLE by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company Inc., in 1995.


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