You know when you have one of those Oprah “Ah-Ha!” moments? You know, when the lightbulb goes off in your brain, when it seems as though you finally get it and it all seems just…well… right? Well, on Oprah, most of these “Ah-Ha” moments happen during some emotional breakdown or confrontation. For me, well, I often have these delicious moments while eating. When a new dish, or an old dish with new flavors is placed in front of me (usually when on vacation somewhere outside of the country) and I taste it and it all just comes together, many times I have a “Delicious Ah-Ha Moment” (yes, I just made that up – I need to somehow differentiate myself from O).
This brings me to the point of this post – when traveling in Northern Italy last month I had many “D.A.H.M’s” but the one that stands out the most is a dish that Jonny had at a small, random little restaurant in a small town on the island of Elba off the coast of Tuscany. The dish was Pasta con Tonno. Pasta with Tuna… huh? Yes, many of you may be thinking…. naaaasty. Eww. Why would you put something you mix with mayo on top of warm pasta. Forget it. Well, don’t. It’s awesome. The key is to buy actual TONNO -not “Chicken of the Sea” or any other American-style Tuna Fish in a can. You must buy Italian Tonno in Olio/Olive Oil (usually about $2.99 a can but WELL worth it). Bumble Bee brand makes an OK one… but not as good as the European kind. Whatever, all the Yellowtail in Oil tastes good in this dish.
While waiting for my husband to come home after a night of hanging out at the pub, I was starving and couldn’t wait any more. I threw this dish together at 9.30PM in 12 minutes w/o having to go to the store. You may also substitute the radicchio in this recipe for swiss chard, as we recently tried. Delish!
Here’s my attempt to help you recreate it:
PASTA CON TONNO (Serves 2-4)
- 1 or 2 cans Tonno in Olive Oil (if you can’t find, you could try it w/ a can of tuna packed in oil – not water!)
- 3-4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (use Extra Virgin – it’s the sauce… don’t skimp on taste for calories, please…)
- 1 big clove of garlic – sliced or chopped
- 1 small onion – chopped
- 1 handful of cherry tomatoes – sliced in half
- juice of 1 lemon
- optional (just tried this last night and it added a nice extra layer of flavor) – thinly sliced red radicchio
- Salt and Pepper
- Sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1 Box of your fave short pasta – I like Fusilli, Gemelli or Penne
How to Do It:
- Start boiling the water for your pasta – don’t forget to heavily salt and throw a tablespoon of olive oil in there!
- Add about 3 tablespoons or so (eyeball enough olive oil so that it covers the bottom of the pan)
- On Low-Medium (closer to Medium) heat, add the chopped onion. After about 2-3 minutes, when onion is partially cooked, turn heat down to low and throw in the garlic.
- Throw your pasta into the water – make sure you know how many minutes till it’s al dente! I usually subtract at least 2 minutes from the package’s cooking time to make sure I get it right.
- Let the garlic flavor get absorbed by the olive oil. When you slowly and lowly heat the oil, the garlic will almost create a garlic oil. This will give your “sauce” more flav-a.
- About 3 minutes before your pasta will be done, throw in the tomatoes… add a bit of Salt and Pepper. Feel free to stir the stuff around a bit. Keep that heat on low!
- Check the pasta for al dente. Drain the pasta but reserve 1 Tablespoon of the pasta water for the sauce.
- Throw the pasta into the pan w/ the oil, onions, garlic and tomatoes and add the tablespoon of reserved pasta water.
- Add the whole can of tonno with it’s oil.
- Squeeze some lemon all over. Stir. Add a bit of S&P to taste. Throw your thinly sliced, optional radicchio in there. Sprinkle some Parmigiano over it. Stir again and VOILA! Serve w/ some fresh basil if you want.
This meal takes however long it takes for pasta to boil to be completed. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.