April 23, 2013
I love canned fish. When I was little, I would eat canned sardines in miso sauce by the spoonful. Like ice cream! Haha. During my year living in Italy, I learned how to make this dish: pasta with canned tuna, onions and tomatos. So easy! In Italy I also discovered the increased quality and flavor of Mediterranean tuna, since it is prominently canned in olive oil.
Who taught me how to make this dish? Why it was my dear friend Marta, one of my roommates while studying at the University of Padova in northern Italy. She was from Cadiz, Spain, and we bonded over cured meats, cheeses and canned fish, and commiserated about being foreigners in a highly xenophobic country like Italia. Of course we had better things to do than to cook, so this pasta dish was easy and comforting. We were also dirt poor (all funds went to traveling) so this dish fit the cheap-o bill.
1 can of tuna packed in olive oil (Trader Joe’s version is cheap and fine)
1/2 box of pasta (I prefer linguine, but anything works)
1/2 sliced yellow onion
1 tomato, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 tblsp olive oil
Handful of parsley leaves
Salt, pepper to taste
Optional: tomato sauce, red pepper flakes, mushrooms
1. Boil a pot full of water, add a tablespoon salt.
2. Slice the onion, tomato and garlic.
3. Add olive oil to a hot pan.
4. Add garlic before oil gets hot to avoid burning them.
5. When the water is boiling, add pasta. The more water, the easier to get all the pasta in evenly.
6. Add onions to the pan. Stir until onion is clear.
7. I happened to have tomato sauce in the fridge (Kishi told me about Marcella Hazan’s ridiculously easy recipe for homemade tomato sauce — just canned tomatoes, a whole onion and butter) so I added this in. It’s not necessary though if you have tomatoes. Or vice versa, if you don’t have tomatoes, add tomato sauce. Capisce?
8. Pour in the entire can of tuna and oil. Till the last drop! I love the miniature cans from Spain and Italy. They are SO SMART!
The beauty of this dish is the olive oil that is steeped in tuna-goodness, which is why you don’t want to miss a single drop. I will write a canned tuna post at some point. I also like Japanese canned tuna packed with salad oil and MSG!
9. Sautee for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
10. Add the al dente pasta into the pan. Mix so every strand is coated.
11. Plate, add fresh parsley and enjoy!
Marta recently visited me from Madrid. We hadn’t seen each other in six years, but it was as though we had just met up yesterday. It is wonderful to know that some friendships stay intact and untouched no matter the distance or the time that has passed.
Knowing my love for canned tuna, Marta brought me a mega-pack of it from Spain (like you see pictured above in Step #8). She swears that the Spanish version is better than Italy’s, given Spain’s abundance of tuna — some of the highest grade blue-fin tuna comes from Spanish seas, according to Kuni.
While Marta was here, we cooked quite a bit and she made tortilla. My fave!