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Spaghetti with Tuna Fish

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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Spaghetti with Tuna
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. Place the oil in a saucepan and add the garlic and scallions.
  2. Meanwhile, start cooking the pasta.
  3. Sauté until soft, then add the tuna, breaking it up with a fork.
  4. Add the capers, red pepper flakes, half the herbs and about ¼ cup of the pasta water.
  5. Finish cooking the pasta until almost al dente and add the drained pasta nto the pan with the tuna.
  6. It's fine if a little water comes with the pasta since you'll want to add more water anyway.
  7. Add some of the pasta water and swish the pasta thoroughly through the sauce, adding more water if necessary to finish cooking the pasta.
  8. Add the other half of the herbs and serve immediately.
 

 

Lemon Chicken With Olives and Capers

So many of our dinners come about simply because of grocery items that have been lingering too long in my refrigerator and need using before they go bad. Such was the case here, where I had some olives nearing their toss out point, and a bag of lemons that I’d never get through unless I whipped up lemon meringue pies for the whole neighborhood. Now, I do cook for my neighbors from time to time but in this case, I wanted something savory and less caloric for dinner, and something that included those lemons and olives.

This recipe, adapted from one I found in Food and Wine’s website, by Lidia Bastianich, fit the bill perfectly. I halved the amount of chicken, to serve only two people, but since I wanted more sauce, I kept the proportions for the sauce ingredients as if I were preparing the recipe with a larger amount of chicken. To see the original recipe, click here.

The original recipe asks you to drizzle the lemon slices with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 375 degrees, but to get that browned edge, I found that broiling them works best. Keep a close watch on them so they don’t burn. I didn’t bother with the salt, pepper or olive oil either, because there is plenty of seasoning in the recipe itself.

DO NOT buy thin chicken breast slices for this recipe. They’ll cook too quickly and dry out. Buy a boneless chicken breast. It will be too lumpy and uneven to cook as is, so you’ll need to slice through the thickest part to open it up and make it flatter, pounding a bit with a food mallet (the flat side, not the spiky side). Season with salt and pepper and dust lightly with flour.

Cook the chicken pieces in olive oil at high heat for a few minutes until they’re golden, flipping once, to brown the other side.

Make the sauce while the chicken is in the pan, adding the chicken broth, olives, capers, the lemon slices and the rest of the ingredients.

The original recipe doesn’t call for it, but I added some lemon juice at the end as well, to give it a really fresh taste, and increase the amount of sauce.

It’s a dish that’s fairly easy to prepare and good enough to impress company too.

When you slice into it, the meat is still juicy and tender, and picks up all those flavors that blend so well together. This was a recipe I’ll be making again and again, and next time I won’t wait until I have leftover olives and lemons sitting around.

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Lemon Chicken With Olives and Capers
 
Author:
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 1 lemon, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • Two 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour, for dusting
  • ¼ cup pitted olives, sliced (I used Kalamata olives, but you could use green olives as well)
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • ¾ cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small dice
  • 1 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Arrange the lemon slices in a single layer.
  3. Broil for about five minutes, keeping a close eye on the lemons so they don't burn.
  4. Remove from the broiler when the lemons begin to brown around the edges.
  5. In a deep medium skillet, heat ¼ cup of oil.
  6. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust with the flour, shaking off the excess.
  7. Cook the chicken over high heat, turning once, until golden, about 6 minutes.
  8. Add the olives, capers and stock and bring to a boil.
  9. Cook over high heat until the stock is reduced by about two-thirds, about 5 minutes.
  10. Add the roasted lemons, the lemon juice, butter and parsley, season with salt and pepper and simmer just until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 minute.
  11. Transfer the chicken to plates and spoon the sauce on top.