Let’s Talk Tuna — Tuna Pasta Puttanesca

While everything is going on, even a quick run to the grocery store has become a great feat. So, it seems like a great time to use up those items in your pantry. Something that I almost always have in my cabinet? Canned tuna.

Now, I too love a great tuna sandwich, but tuna salad gets boring after a while, amirite? Enter “Tuna Pasta Puttanesca” — this hearty, comforting pasta dish pulls double duty as not only a delicious dinner, but also uses up ingredients you might not have even remembered you had! Tomatoes, olives, capers, and our star ingredient, TUNA, make this easy meal a crowd pleaser and it’s packed with protein so will feed about 4 or 2-3 very hungry people!

Tuna Pasta Puttanesca

Ingredients:

  • 1lb of pasta (traditionally made with Spaghetti, but you can use any pasta)
  • 28oz can of crushed tomatoes or your favorite jar of tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp of minced garlic or 3-4 cloves finely chopped
  • 1 tin of anchovies in oil
  • 1 small jar of capers, halfway drained
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of olives — your favorite kind
  • 2-3 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 2 cans of tuna fish
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

  1. Put a pot of water (at least 6-8 cups) on medium-high heat to start heating up.
  2. In a flat sauté pan (with at least a 1/2 inch lip), add some olive oil and put over medium heat until the oil starts to shimmer.
  3. Add the anchovies 1-2 at a time to the oil, so they start to “melt.”
  4. Once the anchovies start breaking down, add the garlic and use the back of your spoon to spread out.
  5. Once the garlic starts to brown, add all the herbs and red pepper flakes until you begin to smell the aroma of the herbs coming off the pan.
  6. Add the tomato paste and break up with your spoon.
  7. After 3-4 minutes, add the capers and olives, including half of the caper brine.
  8. Let this cook for a few minutes until there is only a little bit of liquid left, and it is mostly solid and mixed in with the tomatoes.
  9. Add the can of crushed tomatoes and give this a big stir to blend everything.
  10.  Once this mixture comes to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low.
  11.  In the meantime, your water should have come to a boil — make sure it’s a rolling boil!
  12.  Add a big handful of salt to the water — this step is needed to not only season the pasta but also help the sauce come together later from the starch that comes off the pasta.
  13.  Add the pasta to the water and give it a swirl.
  14.  Add the tuna to the tomato mixture and mix it into the sauce.
  15.  Cook pasta for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often to separate strands/pieces.
  16.  Once pasta is al dente (still has a slight bite), add it directly to the saucepan along with a little bit of pasta water (make sure you reserve some more pasta water for later), and bring the heat to medium/medium-high.
  17.  Toss pasta in the sauce and heat through for a few minutes so the flavors can come together.
  18.  Serve yourself a big bowl of Tuna Pasta Puttanesca — you did it! Yum!

Recipe: Everyday Special Tomato Sauce

I am a self-labeled foodie, and I love cooking as much as going out to eat…but I’m also a foodie on a budget. So, I’m always looking for ways to save some money, while at the same time not skimping on the flavor. One of the easiest and tastiest ways I’ve found is by making my own sauces. A quality jar of tomato sauce at the grocery store can run you anywhere between $5-$10. What I like to do is buy the much cheaper canned tomatoes, and make my own sauce at home. Not only will this save a lot of $ over time, but I can flavor it exactly as I like.

This is sauce that I came up with a few years ago and it’s my go to tomato sauce recipe. Flavored with garlic, oregano, crushed red pepper as basil, it has a bold, all day taste, but can be made in 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

IMG_18971 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes—I prefer San Marzano because they’re sweeter, but any brand works. Just make sure they’re not flavored with anything. Also, don’t get tomato purée or sauce in a can, ugh.

1 package of grape or cherry tomatoes–any kind of tomatoes really works well, even vine ripened or beefsteak tomatoes

Salt

Pepper

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tin of anchovy fillets, packed in oil and salted—don’t worry if you don’t like eating anchovies or worry that it’s too fishy. The anchovies will melt in the pan, and give your sauce the salt it needs, and a deep umami flavor. This is actually a trick I learned from Rachael Ray a while ago. I was skeptical when she added as well, but it takes the sauce to another level

1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper flakes

½ tablespoon of oregano, dried

½ tablespoon of basil, dried—if you’re going to serve this sauce right away, then a handful of fresh basil is a great way to finish the sauce before it gets tossed with some pasta

Olive oil

 To Make the Sauce:

  1. Set your oven to 400 degreesIMG_1888
  2. Add the grape tomatoes to a baking pan and toss with olive oil, salt and pepperIMG_1892
  3. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes as you complete the rest of the stepsIMG_1893
  4. Heat some oil in the bottom of a sauce pot on medium-high heat until very hot, but not smokingIMG_1894
  5. Add the anchovies to the pot. As they hit the hot pan, they will begin to melt. Make sure to break them up with a wooden spoon to help them alongIMG_1895
  6. As the anchovies are melting, add the garlic and cook together. Your kitchen will begin to smell amazing. Like your favorite Italian restaurant!IMG_1896
  7. Let the garlic and anchovies cook for a couple of minutes until the garlic browns a bit
  8. Add the red pepper flakes, oregano and basil to the pot and stir everything together for a couple of minutes more
  9. Add the canned tomatoes to the pot and scrape up any bits that might have stuck to bottom of the pot
  10. Reduce the heat to medium and add the roasted tomatoes to the pot as well. Stir well to incorporateIMG_1898
  11. Cover and cook for about 5-10 minutes. Resist the urge to keep checking on it. Let everybody get to know each other in the hot tub!
  12. Uncover and stir. Taste the sauce for seasoningIMG_1900
  13. If it tastes right, then use an immersion hand blender and pulse the sauce until it is mostly smooth but slightly chunky. If you like a smoother sauce, I would purée it up in a blender or food processor. I like a slight chunkiness to my sauceIMG_1901
  14. Continue to cook the sauce on the stove for another 3-5 minutes, uncovered this time aroundFullSizeRender-1

Once the sauce is ready, you can eat it right away, or store it. I always make a big batch of sauce, so I have some to use that day and a jar or two to keep in the freezer. If frozen, it’s good for a couple of months at least. You can use the sauce for pasta, lasagna, meatballs, pizza, as a base for chili, or any number or recipes.