Thursday, November 10, 2005

Dinner – Pasta al Tonno

Pasta with Tuna.

During my early days in Italy, with several kids, no money and a wife that wanted to spend 3 times what I made, it was necessary to find filling dishes that were savory and most of all cheap. In other words, I needed Italian comfort food. In many restaurants, “Pasta alla Puttanesca”, that is pasta with capers, garlic, olives, anchovies and tomatoes, is served. This dish is flavorful and relatively quick to prepare. Although my kids liked this plate, the Puttanesca was definitely not something that I could do, not because the ingredients themselves were expensive, just that you needed numerous ingredients.

I came up with my own version of this dish that is equally flavorful and yet a little lighter and, most important, required ingredients that just about anyone would have in house. Pasta with Tuna uses the onions to substitute for the garlic, keeps the tomatoes and includes canned Tuna instead of anchovies.

The preparation is also very simple and really quick.

Ingredients:

½ medium sized onion diced
1 can of chunky Tuna, best if packed in spring water not oil
1 8 oz. Can of diced or whole peeled Tomatoes (not stewed or with any other herbs)
5 olives per person
Olive Oil
salt
pepper
100 g. of pasta for each person (100 g. is about ¼ pound) – I suggest a short pasta like penne but anything you have will do fine.
Parmesan Cheese – finely grated

Preparation:

Put the water for the pasta in large pot with 3 tablespoons of salt and turn on high heat.
While the water is coming to a boil, dice the ½ onion. Place the onion in a large skillet with about 6 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-low heat, add some salt and pepper. Once the onion is translucent, add the drained Tuna and olives. It should sizzle a bit. Stir in with the onions for about 3 minutes until the Tuna is heated up.

Add the can of tomatoes with its water. Add additional salt and pepper, taste and season again if necessary. By this time the water will be boiling but do not put the pasta yet. Turn the heat on the water down just to have a light boil. Read the pasta box. It will tell you how many minutes the pasta needs to cook.

The mixture in the skillet will be back at a low bubbling simmer by this time. Cook another 3 minutes. Set the timer for the pasta, turn the heat back up and throw in the pasta.

The Pasta and the sauce should be ready about the same time. Most of the liquid will be out of the sauce.

Drain the pasta well. Do not pour cold water on the pasta. Place the hot, drained pasta into the skillet and mix well. Turn all your fires off and serve this dish hot. Immediately place at least a teaspoon of Parmesan cheese on each plate of pasta and stir in the plate.

Since I was really poor at that time. I would drink a Barbera, that I bottled every March on my own [this is another story], from Asti, but this dish will go well with both a fruity young red and just about any white.

If you try this let me know what you think.

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