Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

Marriage (or any other long-term cohabitional situation) is a wonderful thing, but it does have a way of nudging certain foods out of your life. Over time, dishes that had previously been a single person’s mainstay are shelved out of respect for the significant other’s dislikes; one day you wake up and realize these old friends have become culinary persona non grata.

For many years I lived with my beloved friend Jennifer, who is a star in the kitchen, but whose downfall was that she doesn’t like potatoes. Not that she outright won’t eat them, she just made her utter lack of enthusiasm for them very clear. So I deleted the potato from my cooking for years, even after we stopped being roommates. (I have since reclaimed the potato.)

Now, the two main things I miss and have to eat on my own are salmon and tuna. Canned tuna, especially, which Andy used to feed to his late beloved kitty, Mia. Years after Mia’s demise, he still considers canned tuna a sort of catfood and likely always will.

But see, to me canned tuna is instant dinner or lunch. It’s a pantry wonder. Cheap, tasty protein, it doesn’t need thawing or cooking or planning at all. It just sits there in your cupboard ready to be tossed into a sandwich, on top of a salad or into a pasta dish. It plays well with others, especially other things that generally live in your kitchen, like a can of tomatoes, pasta, garlic, lemon and olives. A can of tuna, to paraphrase the late Laurie Colwin, will get a hungry person out of trouble.

This dish in particular is what I eat on the rare nights I find myself alone for dinner. It’s perfect for the times when you’re desperate for a quick and easy dinner, and you’re low on groceries. It’s easy to make – the sauce is assembled while the pasta cooks. And the flavour is something much better than the sum of its parts: briny olives with fishy tuna brought together with a tomato base; lemon zest and fresh herbs give the whole thing a lift. (In a perfect world I would have had fresh herbs in this photo, but there weren’t any in my fridge. I think the food gods will forgive me.)

I’ve written the recipe for four, but a half-recipe will easily feed one person dinner and provide lunch for the next day.

Pasta with Tuna and Olives
serves 4

2 tbsp. olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
generous pinch of chili flakes
1 tbsp. lemon zest
1/4 cup chopped pitted olives
1  28-oz. can diced tomatoes
2 cans of tuna
salt and pepper to taste
optional: 1 tbsp. chopped capers
garnish: chopped parsley or basil

pasta – I’ll let you decide what kind and how much. The pasta in this photo is fettucine made with kamut flour. I also like short pasta, like fusili or penne, to go with this chunky sauce. .

1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, heat the oil until it shimmers and add the garlic and chili flakes. Cook until the garlic softens and is aromatic but not browned. Add the lemon zest and olives (and capers, if using), cook for 1 minute and then dump in the tomatoes and tuna. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes while the pasta cooks.

2. Meanwhile, cook your pasta in a large pot of salted water. Cook it just to the al dente stage.

3. Season the sauce to taste and mix in the herbs. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce.

Leftovers taste even better the second day.


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