I don’t know about you, but if you’re trying to avoid contracting the dreaded Coronavirus, you’re taking far fewer jaunts to the supermarket these days. I’m trying to stretch out my trips to every ten days or more, (and I enter the store donned in a mask and gloves) and that’s mostly to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. I’m sure that even before this health scare, I had enough provisions in my pantry to keep us fed for a couple of weeks — dry beans, pastas, canned tomatoes, rice, canned sardines, tuna and even some canned artichokes are all staples I normally have on hand. I decided to put some of the tuna and pasta to work and make a meatless meal on a Lenten Friday. It’s a recipe that I learned from my Abruzzese mother-in-law decades ago but I hadn’t made in ages. Now seemed just the right time to dust it off, with a few additions of my own. It comes together in the amount of time it takes to boil the pasta, so it’s a great time saver and kids generally love it too. I added scallions and capers to mine, which my mother-in-law never did, but they amp up the flavor quite a bit. You could even add some anchovy if you like, as I saw in a recent New York Times recipe. The recipe is very adaptive to what you have on hand, so don’t make a special trip to the store for anything. If you haven’t got scallions, use minced onion or shallot, or leave them out altogether. I also used a fair amount of parsley and chives that seem to have sprung up overnight in my deck planter. Feel free to substitute and improvise with other herbs if you don’t have those handy. Even dried herbs will work in a pinch.
Mix all the ingredients together while the pasta is boiling, then add the cooked pasta to the pan just before it reaches the al dente stage, along with some pasta water. Stir everything together for another minute or two, adding more water if necessary, to finish the cooking to the al dente stage.
Sprinkle with more fresh herbs just before serving and dig in. Stay healthy readers. And wear a mask if you must go out in public.
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- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 6 small scallions (or three large ones)
- 1 5 oz. can tuna fish, drained
- two tablespoons capers
- ¾ cup pasta water, more or less
- freshly minced chives and parsley
- a sprinkle of red pepper flakes
- ½ pound spaghetti or linguini
- Place the oil in a saucepan and add the garlic and scallions.
- Meanwhile, start cooking the pasta.
- Sauté until soft, then add the tuna, breaking it up with a fork.
- Add the capers, red pepper flakes, half the herbs and about ¼ cup of the pasta water.
- Finish cooking the pasta until almost al dente and add the drained pasta nto the pan with the tuna.
- It's fine if a little water comes with the pasta since you'll want to add more water anyway.
- Add some of the pasta water and swish the pasta thoroughly through the sauce, adding more water if necessary to finish cooking the pasta.
- Add the other half of the herbs and serve immediately.