TUNA & PEPPERS - by Tom Jackson

TUNA & PEPPERS - by Tom Jackson


Sweetie Drops, Crispy ‘Nduja Chickpeas  & Oregano (& Tuna)

Serves four

Here the tuna acts more as a seasoning, playing third fiddle to the prized biquinho peppers and delicious chickpeas. If you love tuna, feel free to increase the quantity – I prefer to keep my guests guessing. If you can’t  find pickled biquinho peppers (sweetie drops), first ask yourself whether you’ve really tried your hardest to find  them, then fall back on an alternative pickled cherry pepper. It will still be great – just watch how much you use,  as they may be hotter.


½ small red onion, very finely chopped 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

275g (10oz) toscani, gigli, casarecce  or another wavy pasta shape

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves,  plus extra for garnish

6 tablespoons olive oil

½ garlic clove, finely grated

1 heaped tablespoon capers,  

roughly chopped

60g (2oz) pickled biquinho peppers,  roughly chopped

100g (3½oz) best-quality tinned tuna  in olive oil

200g (7oz) jarred chickpeas (garbanzos),  rinsed and thoroughly dried

40g (1½oz) ‘nduja

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon lemon zest



In a large mixing bowl, muddle together the onion and vinegar and set aside.  

Cook the pasta in salty boiling water until slightly al dente (1 minute less  than the total packet instructions), then drain and rinse until just warm or room temperature.  

Finely chop half the fresh oregano and add to the bowl of onion, along with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Stir in the garlic, capers and chopped  pickled peppers, then season well with salt. Flake in the tuna, then toss with the pasta. Set aside to rest while you make the chickpeas.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium  heat and add the chickpeas. Season well with salt and cook for 5–7 minutes or so (depending on the chickpeas you are using, they may pop and splutter),  until they are crisp and tanned, then reduce the heat. Make a small clearing in the centre of the pan and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the ’nduja.  When the ’nduja has released its fat and has started to caramelise, add the  remaining oregano leaves, along with the dried oregano and lemon zest.  Toss together a final time, then remove from the heat to cool slightly. Transfer  the pasta to a wide serving bowl and adorn with the chickpeas and any  residual oil. Finish with a few fresh oregano leaves.

All photos have been provided with credit to Patricia Niven.