Paccheri With Champignons, Ventresca, Cherry Tomatoes & Anari Cheese
Its not many times that i ve woken up after trying a new dish for dinner the night before, and cooking a tiny amount of it again for breakfast.. i had to do it with this one, as i wasnt sure if it was indeed as incredible as i remembered it and why that was.
Especially since its so simple;
Tuna and mushrooms is no surprise to anyone, and tuna belly with ricotta salata and cherry tomatoes is lifted straight from Jacob Kennedy's seminal The Geometry Of Pasta, a book close to somewhat of a bible, in this house.
Thus, so far, no pretense to originality here whatsoever.
But its the little mushrooms, the chilli and what it does to the oil, and the anari cheese (not fresh creamy ricotta, its dried salty version or anari / or dry anthotyros as subs) working with the sweet tarty tomatoes.
The umami that builds up from the mushrooms with their gentle nutty but meaty flavour pairing with the tuna belly, is enormously intense and gentle / creamy buttery - while also hitting a deep umami taste, to the extent where it reads almost salty.
A mild flavoured olive oil.
1 banana shalot - chopped relaxed style; in 3-4-cm long but thin slithers
garlic 2 cloves
tuna belly tins (2) some of its oil
or homemade as in this recipe ;Mackerel Or Tuna Confit
1 handfuls of cherry tomatoes *
1 full handful of small button mushrooms /champignons - sliced Very thin.
1/2 cup dry white wine
dry anari (cypriot cheese available as 'dry ricotta',, or Dry Anari from some london cornershops) or a xeri myzithra
or ricotta salata
If you cant find neither, wait until you do. the salty chalky buttery taste they contribute is essential to this.
reserved pasta water
*First, crush tomatoes by hand, under a running tap to discard the seeds (cover the explosive little spheres with your non-crushing hand, to avert them squirting on your clothes )
- let those sit in a bowl with some sea salt, oil and oregano & a few fennel seeds if you have em. Leave the tomatoes to macerate in their juices 10 mins minimum -to an hour max.
start with chilli flakes and oregano, toast a little then add oil, shallots and garlic
and fry til golden.
Add tomatoes and stir, cook until they star falling apart 5-6mins or so, add white wine and evaporate a little .
- meanwhile almost-cook your paccheri, (1-2 mins less than the packages says) or any big tortiglioni or even better some canneloni which you can then chop in half lengthways with scizzors to form paccheri .. shorter but as wide tubular pasta.
when pasta ready, shock in cold water - and stir to make sure its not hot anymore. Drizzle oil.
When about to eat, heat up the sauce and stir, add pasta and a tiny bit of its water, and let cook a little.
Then add your tuna crumbled and stir, and a tiny laddle of pasta water - stir to emulsify sauce. Serve with grated thick salty and buttery shards of anari or ricotta salata.