Pasta Primavera with Fresh Tuna

Primavera” refers to a Central American hardwood tree with tubular yellow flowers or to spring. The latter is descriptive of a variety of light pasta dishes that are cooked with fresh spring vegetables. There are no hard and fast rules as to what vegetables can be used for making pasta primavera. I prefer a combination of tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, and carrots. I also like to add fresh basil because it goes so well with garlic and olive oil. In the past, I often added sardines in jars or canned tuna to what traditionally is a vegetable dish, but never fresh seafood. I never realized the difference it makes. The cubes of fresh tuna retained their shape, adding flavor to the dish that did not have that overpowering fishy taste one gets from fish in cans and jars.

Cook the pasta to al dente stage. Drain. Cut the tuna fillets into half-inch to one-inch cubes. Season with salt and pepper. Peel and thinly slice the carrot. Split the bell peppers, remove the seeds, cut off the veins then roughly chop. Cut the eggplant into one-inch cubes.

Heat the olive oil in a large shallow pan (even when cooking pasta, I still find the Oriental wok to be the ideal cooking pan). Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the chopped onion(s) and cook for another 30 seconds. Cook the vegetables by starting with what takes the longest to cook. I usually start with the eggplants, then the carrot, the bell peppers, and, finally the tomatoes. Just remember not to overcook the vegetables.

Push the vegetables to the sides of the pan and add the cubes of tuna to the hot oil. When the fish changes color, add the basil leaves, stir the fish with the rest of the vegetables, and season with salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. Add the cooked pasta to the pan, toss to distribute the vegetables, and coat the noodles with oil. Off the heat, add the grated Parmesan cheese and toss a few times before serving.