Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Regulars: Pasta al Tonno

Some might feel the need to travel to an exotic location, climb to the top of a mountain and find out from the guru who lives there that life is a wheel and what goes around comes around. I learned that lesson growing up by sitting down to dinner.

The mis en place, appealing to my inner OCD self.

Sunday was chipped beef on white bread eaten on TV trays while we watched Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. Monday was some form of hamburger, whether patty, meatloaf or cooked with rice and tomatoes and called Spanish. Friday was tuna casserole made with the glue that held so many mothers' culinary universe together, Campbell's cream of mushroom soup.

Ready for the pasta.

Around here it's not quite that predictable, but there are dishes that make a regular appearance on our dinner table. So when I'm not feeling particularly creative, like my mother I boil water for pasta and open a can of tuna. But instead of reaching for the Campbell's, I sauté a little garlic, toss in some lemon zest and capers, sprinkle on some parmesan and, like Mom, call it dinner.

Pasta al Tonno
Adapted from "The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces"by Diane Seed

1 lb. dried pasta
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1 6-oz. can tuna, drained
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp. small capers
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Zest of 1 lemon
4 Tbsp. chopped parsley
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. parmesan cheese

Boil water for pasta. Add salt and pasta and cook till al dente.

While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in medium skillet and sauté garlic briefly. Add walnuts, tuna, capers and Worcestershire sauce and sauté till warm. Turn off heat and stir in lemon zest, parsley, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. When pasta is done, drain off water, place in bowl and pour tuna mixture over top. Sprinkle with 1/4 c. of parmesan, reserving remainder to add at the table.


Anonymous said...

Please share the type (name brand) of tuna you use - thanks!

Kathleen Bauer said...

Well, in the best of all worlds I would have a stock of the Spanish tuna, Ortiz, packed in lovely olive oil. And the oil could be used with the pasta or saved for another use...a Caesar-type salad(?).

Normally, though, I just use Trader Joe's albacore packed in (I can see you wincing) water. But hey, it's a quick dinner and I grab whatever's in the pantry. And it works fine. Really.

Lisa Belt said...

Any time I have a recipe that calls for a $10 can of tuna, I crack open a water-packed -- drain it -- and pour olive oil over the top while I make the rest of the meal. By the time I'm ready to use it, I've usually succeeded in convincing myself it's marinated long enough to pass for the real thing.

Kathleen Bauer said...

Maybe I'm just not sophisticated enough to taste the difference, but to me it's just not worth the price difference. I like your solution!