Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Pene with canned tuna sauce---yes, canned tuna

Pene with sauce of tomatoes, tuna, and capers

Years ago I was watching a cooking program on PBS with Marcella Hazan. She was either the host or the guest. At any rate, we got this idea from her and have been making it often (sometimes too often) ever since. Cheap food without making you feel like a loser. Here are two keys to this dish: first, use good tuna canned in olive oil. Second, use capers in salt, not capers in vinegar. Capers in salt are plump and flavorful. Capers in vinegar are tiny and taste like vinegar. I once left a note saying as much on a bottle of vinegar capers in my friend Brian's refrigerator. Sometimes as I ponder my past actions I marvel that I have any friends left at all.

But back to the pasta. I have come to the conclusion that dried pasta and canned tomatoes suffer the same disproportion as hot dogs and buns. Whenever I make a sauce for one pound of pasta with one can of tomatoes I end up with not enough sauce. So I like using 1 1/2 cans of tomatoes.

Saute 1-3 chopped garlic cloves in a little olive oil. When garlic turns gold add 1 1/2 cans of chopped tomatoes, 1 can of tuna (drain the olive oil), 1-2 T balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar, or red wine), and freshly ground pepper to taste. Rinse and drain 2 T capers (you may even want to soak them in water for a few minutes if you're sensitive to salt) and add. After sauce has simmered with capers for about 10 minutes taste and add salt if necessary.

I like to cook the pasta al dente, before it's completely done. Then I add the pasta to the sauce and cook it (with a little of the pasta water) a few minutes longer. The noodles soak up more of the sauce that way.

I think Hazan actually sauted the tuna along with the garlic. This is probably better, but it'll make your entire apartment smell like tuna. I have a very small apartment and like to fall asleep smelling the lavender sachets I keep tucked in my pillows, not preserved fish.

1 comment:

Dave said...

This reminds me (because it's canned fish and pasta) of the melted anchovy pasta I make. You do the garlic in olive oil thing (and maybe shallots if you're ambitious), then add some anchovies and mush them with the spatula until they dissolve into this brown paste, then add canned chopped tomatoes and hopefully some oregano and basil, maybe a splash of red wine or balsamic vinegar. I don't know, whatever you put in a red pasta sauce. Then mix with the pasta, etc. It sound like the tuna, which I must try, will have more protein content, but the anchovies are a real kick.