Spaghetti with Oven-Dried Tomatoes and Bottarga

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Bottarga is fish roe, usually from tuna, that is pressed and salted. It is commonly found in Italian markets and specialty food stores. In Italy, it has been called “Sicilian caviar,” since Sicily is traditionally where the tuna is caught. The roe can be eaten as is—on toasts or as shaved slices mixed with very thinly sliced celery, olive oil, and pepper—or shaved over other foods. It is usually accompanied in some way by garlic and parsley, and sometimes peperoncino, dried hot red pepper.

Use the best-quality bottarga and olive oil, since they are the main flavorings. The dish is finished with parslied bread crumbs for added texture and flavor.

Ingredients

  • cup fresh white bread crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 12 ounces best-quality spaghetti, preferably imported
  • ½ cup Oven-Cooked Tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped
  • ½ cup bottarga, skin removed, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

Method

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put on 6 quarts of salted water to boil in a large pot.

Mix the bread crumbs with 3 tablespoons of the parsley, ¼ cup of the olive oil, and a pinch each salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 10 minutes, or until just golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and keep warm.

Cook the spaghetti in the boiling water until al dente, 10 to 15 minutes. (Imported artisinal pasta will be on the long side, while more commercial brands will not take more than 10 or 12 minutes.)

Meanwhile, warm ¼ cup olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and oregano. Cook for 1 minute while stirring. Add the bottarga, garlic, and remaining 2 tablespoons parsley. Cook for another minute and add ¼ cup of the pasta boiling water so that the ingredients do not “fry” in the olive oil but begin to make a sauce.

When the spaghetti is done, drain it and add to the sauce. Add the remaining ¼ cup olive oil and cook, tossing, for 1 minute. Serve in a heated bowl with the warm seasoned bread crumbs sprinkled over the top.

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