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
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
1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Put a pot of water (at least 6-8 cups) on medium-high heat to start heating up.
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.
Add the anchovies 1-2 at a time to the oil, so they start to “melt.”
Once the anchovies start breaking down, add the garlic and use the back of your spoon to spread out.
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.
Add the tomato paste and break up with your spoon.
After 3-4 minutes, add the capers and olives, including half of the caper brine.
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.
Add the can of crushed tomatoes and give this a big stir to blend everything.
Once this mixture comes to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low.
In the meantime, your water should have come to a boil — make sure it’s a rolling boil!
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.
Add the pasta to the water and give it a swirl.
Add the tuna to the tomato mixture and mix it into the sauce.
Cook pasta for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often to separate strands/pieces.
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.
Toss pasta in the sauce and heat through for a few minutes so the flavors can come together.
Serve yourself a big bowl of Tuna Pasta Puttanesca — you did it! Yum!
We could all use a little more green in our lives, right? But eating a salad can sometimes be a bit boring. Something I can never get tired of though–roasted vegetables. It’s amazing what a little heat and seasoning can do to ordinary veggies to make them spectacular.
Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetable side dishes. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a heavy meat dish, to complete a weeknight meal, or even to be the star of the dish. Try it topped with a poached egg and hollandaise for a healthier take on traditional eggs benedict. Yum! This recipe for Herb Roasted Asparagus is so easy and comes together in no time at all. Plus, asparagus just seems so elegant and impressive–no one needs to know how easy it was to make!
Asparagus, 1-2 bunches
Herbs de Provence (can find in Trader Joe’s for a great deal)
Salt and pepper
Preheat an oven to 425 degrees
On a sheet pan, place a piece of parchment paper — while not necessary to cook, parchment paper prevents sticking and also makes for easy cleanup
Cut or break off ends of asparagus spears — if using your hands, the fibrous ends will break off naturally. You won’t want to eat these since they’re very woody and tough, but they’re excellent for soups
Toss the asparagus with enough olive oil to coat, a big pinch of salt, pepper and herbs de Provence — Remember to season aggressively!
Using a microplane or part of a box grater, add the zest of 1 lemon to the asparagus
Squeeze the juice from half of that lemon onto the asparagus as well
Roast the asparagus in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they’re tender and slightly crisp
Garnish with some fresh chopped parsley, and a squeeze of lemon
Risotto is one of those dishes that sounds super fancy–and it definitely tastes luxurious!–but is actually far easier to make at home than most people think. In fact, it doesn’t even need cream or milk to make it creamy. You just need to buy the right kind of rice and give it a little love and attention and you’ll be whipping up some restaurant worthy risotto in no time. Flavor it with your favorite mix-ins like roasted asparagus, caramelized onions, roasted butternut squash or more. Bon appetito!
Arborio rice, 2 cups — you must use arborio rice for this dish. Arborio rice has a super high starch content and this is what makes your risotto creamy and delicious!
Garlic, 5-6 cloves chopped
White wine, 1 cup
Chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you want to keep it vegetarian/dairy), 4 cups — if you wanted to do a super rich and earthy mushroom risotto, you could make some mushroom broth by rehydrating dried porcini mushrooms for a truly luxurious risotto dish!
Salt and pepper
Parmesan (or nondairy substitute such as nutritional yeast), optional but always worth it
Heat the stock in a saucepan and add any flavorings you’d like to it such as herbs, lemon juice, spices etc.
Sauté garlic in olive oil until fragrant and slightly brown. Season with salt and pepper
Add rice and toss to coat. Sauté the rice so it gets nice and toasty. This will give it a wonderful and deep flavor later on
Add about a cup of white wine of your choice — you can also use champagne, sparkling wine etc. Just make sure it’s something you like. If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it! The flavor will just concentrate as it’s cooking
Stir the rice, and once it’s absorbed the wine, start adding about a cup of broth to the rice and stir it around
Every time the rice absorbs the liquid, it needs to be stirred. As it cooks and gets stirred, it will start to release its starches which creates the creaminess that is characteristic of risotto
After about 18 minutes, you will have added several cups of liquid and the ride should be creamy and have expanded. Give it a quick taste for seasoning and to make sure the rice is al dente (should have a little bit of chew left)
Now would be the time to add anything to the risotto like some roasted asparagus, maple roasted butternut squash if you wanted to go sweet, or anything you like
Turn off the heat and add some nutritional yeast (if meat meal) to give it some umami or a cup of grated Parmesan cheese if a dairy meal and stir.
Serve while still warm. To reheat, heat risotto into a saucepan with a 1/4 cup of water and stir until steamy and ready to inhale
I love coming up with new ways to cook with some of my favorite ingredients, especially comfort foods. To me, a big wok full of curry is super comforting and was one of the dishes I made all the time when I moved into my first solo apartment. It’s warm, earthy, spicy and makes me feel good all over. Plus, it’s amazing for leftovers! So, when Mama Lam’s, a local food vendor making and selling their own Malaysian Curry Paste that I had the pleasure of meeting at the annual Queens Taste, event contacted me about partnering up, I was excited. I couldn’t wait to try cooking with their homemade, Malaysian curry paste and curating a couple of dishes to use their product in.
I decided to create a curry themed meal featuring Mama Lam’s Curry Paste two ways—a Pistachio Crusted Curry Salmon and a Curry Noodles with Crispy Tofu. Check out the recipes below and also watch my YouTube cooking demo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PCoQ8uLQYU.
Pistachio Crusted Curry Salmon
4-6 salmon filets (skin on)
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1/2 jar of Mama Lam’s curry paste
1 tbsp Sambal Olek or another Southeast Asian chili sauce—Sriracha works fine.
I recommend not skipping this ingredient, even if you don’t like spicy food. The fish has a warming heat and it is very much tempered by the coconut milk and acidity of the lime juice
1/2 can of coconut milk
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of ginger, chopped
1 stalk of lemongrass, cut into pieces–you can also use 1/2 tbsp of chopped lemongrass from a tube. You’ll find this near the fresh herbs in the market
Juice of 2 limes
2 cups of roasted pistachios, shell removed
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp of black pepper
Create a marinade with the chili sauce, ginger, garlic, lime juice, coconut milk, lemongrass, oil, salt and pepper
Marinade the salmon for at least an hour and up to 4 hours
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Crush the pistachios with either your hands or a mallet. A rolling pin works well too—this is very cathartic and a great way to take out your aggression. Ha!
After the fish has soaked, dip the salmon into the pistachios and coat on sides and top with the nuts
Place the salmon skin side down on a greased baking pan and bake for 20 minutes until the crust is set—The fish should be cooked through, but still a bit pink in the center and very moist. It will continue cooking for a few minutes once it comes out of the oven
Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice over the top
This fish is delicious served all on its own with a fresh salad or some roasted asparagus, but is even better with some Curry Noodles!
Curry Noodles with Crispy Tofu
1 package of firm tofu, 14oz
1 pound of broad rice noodles
2 bell peppers, chopped
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 eggplant—chopped into bite sized pieces. I love to use Japanese or graffiti eggplant for this dish not only because of the beautiful color, but also because it has less water in it than an Italian eggplant, so it’ll be sweeter and stay firmer when cooked down
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp of fish sauce
1/2 jar of Mama Lam’s curry paste
1 tbsp of Sambal Olek chili sauce
1 bunch of scallions, chopped (reserve some for garnish)—also called green onion or spring onion in some supermarkets
1 can of coconut milk—do not use reduced fat as the texture and thickness of the sauce will be off. Plus, coconut milk is a healthy fat
Vegetable or peanut oil—any high heat oil will do such as canola, corn, grapeseed oil, etc.
The first step of this dish is to make the crispy tofu—who doesn’t like their tofu crispy?
Tofu has a lot of water, which is why it usually tastes bland. In fact, the biggest mistake that most cooks make when handling tofu is not getting rid of the excess water. This will never work! Even if you just want to marinade the tofu you’ll still need to do this step
Put the tofu between two paper towels and press. Repeat this process 2-3 times, and then let the tofu sit between the towels for at least 20 minutes to really draw out the moisture
Heat up your wok until it starts to smoke a little, then add the oil. It’s important that you don’t add your oil before this as you don’t want it to bubble up and burn you
Add the tofu to the wok and spread it out in a single layer—you should hear it sizzle. If there’s no sizzle, then your wok isn’t hot enough and your tofu will steam instead of crisp up
Let the tofu cook on one side for a couple min, then mix it up and repeat this process a few times until it’s crispy on all sides. This shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes or so
Put your tofu on a plate and place aside for later on
Heat your wok back up on the stove while you get the rest of your ingredients ready
Add some more oil, then add the garlic, ginger and scallions—this is the holy trinity of Asian dishes!
Let these sauté for a minute, then add the curry paste and heat through, followed by the onions, peppers and eggplant
Let the veggies cook for a few minutes, then add the fish sauce, chili sauce and coconut milk and stir until it becomes a homogenized sauce
Cook the curry for at least 10 minutes or longer depending on how thick you like your sauce—as it cooks the flavors of the salty fish sauce, spicy chilis, earthy curry and more will concentrate
Meanwhile, drop the rice noodles into some salted boiling water—off the heat—and let soak for 5 minutes
Add the par-cooked noodles to the curry and toss together in the wok
Let the noodles and curry cook together as the noodles absorb the sauce and meld together into one cohesive dish
Garnish with the crispy tofu, fresh cilantro, chopped scallions, and some chopped peanuts or pistachios if you’d like to tie the two dishes together even more
Eat while still hot or add some sesame oil and have as a cold salad the next day for lunch. Yum!
Enjoy these dishes together with a Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad for a fabulous Southeast Asian inspired dinner at home.
Sorry I’ve been away for a few weeks, but work’s been crazy! This recipe is actually inspired by all of the craziness. I wanted something that was not only delicious, but also comforting. This lasagna is packed full of roasted vegetables, so it’s also a healthy dinner to serve your family. This recipe might seem like it has a lot of steps, but all of them are simple and can be multitasked. So if you want to feed a crowd, or have a lot of leftovers–which are delicious!–try this recipe for Roasted Vegetable Lasagna.
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes—my favorite brand is San Marzano for its inherent sweetness, but any brand should be fine
½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
2 ½ teaspoons of dried oregano
1 tin of anchovy filets—it’s important that the anchovies are packed in oil as opposed to water since you want to flavor and richness of the oil to help flavor the sauce. Flat filets are also easier for melting into the oil
4-5 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 pound of grape tomatoes—quartered whole tomatoes or cherry tomatoes could work in this dish too, but grape tomatoes are a nice size and roast beautifully in the oven
Salt and pepper
1 pound of cremini mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on size
2 small to medium zucchini, cut into half moons
2 small to medium yellow squash, cut into half moons
1 green pepper, sliced into strips
1 large onion, chopped roughly
1 pound of ricotta cheese—it might be tempting to use low fat here, but use whole milk ricotta—trust me, you’ll taste the difference!
1 cup of Parmesan cheese—shredded or grated as long as you’d eat it on your pasta
10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained—Make sure you squeeze as much water out of the spinach as you can
1 box of oven ready lasagna noodles
1 bag of shredded mozzarella—one of those Italian blends works too
1 small ball of fresh mozzarella (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of oil, 1 teaspoon of oregano and salt, and ½ teaspoon of black pepper
Spread tomatoes on a sheet pan and roast for 15-20 minutes
At the same time, use a second, larger sheet pan for the zucchini, squash, pepper and onion and increase to 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 tablespoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of oregano, and 1 teaspoon of pepper
Roast the veggies for around 30 minutes, while you prepare the rest of the components for the lasagna
Drop the heat to 375 degrees when the veggies come out of the oven
While the veggies are in the oven, add enough olive oil to a big sauté pan to coat the bottom and heat on medium-high heat
Add anchovies to the pan and break them up with a back of a wooden spoon—Don’t skip this step! Even if you don’t like anchovies, the high heat will melt the filets into the oil and it will give needed background and depth to your sauce
Once the anchovy is melted, add the garlic and brown for about a minute or two
Add the mushrooms—it’s important for mushrooms to be spread out for them to brown evenly. If they’re too crowded in the pan, then they’ll start to steam and turn rubbery
Once the mushrooms have cooked, season with a teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of black pepper,½ teaspoon of oregano
Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan and stir—you want the seasonings to be evenly spread throughout
Reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until the roasted tomatoes are ready to come out of the oven, and then transfer tomatoes to the sauce
Continue to simmer for another 5 minutes
While the sauce is finishing up, you can work on the ricotta layer
In a large bowl, add ricotta cheese, parmesan, eggs, and spinach, as well as a teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper
Whisk all the ingredients together for about 3-4 minutes
Time to assemble the layers! In a 9×13 baking dish, spoon a bit of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish
Add the lasagna noodles to the dish in a single layer all the way across—I shingled a little and also got creative by using one noodle that I cracked to fill in empty crevices
The next layer should be some more tomato sauce
Next up is a layer of the roasted vegetables
After the vegetables should be a layer of the ricotta mixture—don’t skimp on the ricotta!
After the ricotta comes the cheese layer—add about ¼ of the bag of mozzarella cheese over the ricotta
Repeat the layering another 3 times, and top with a layer of noodles
For the final layer, add a thick layer of tomato sauce all over the top, followed by the rest of the cheese, and a handful of parmesan—for my top layer, I actually like to use some fresh mozzarella since it melts so beautifully and makes for a beautiful presentation
I place the whole thing onto a larger sheet tray so that if there’s spillage, it doesn’t go all over the oven floor
Bake in the oven at 375 degrees, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes
Let it cool for at least 5-10 minutes before you cut into it. In fact, lasagna is a great make-ahead dish that you can keep in the fridge for up to 2 days before heating it. If you plan to refrigerate, make sure you add an additional 10-12 minutes to the cooking time. Also, this makes for a pretty saucy lasagna, but if you want you can reserve some extra sauce and spoon it over the top of each piece as it’s served, and garnish with some extra parmesan. Now who wouldn’t want a piece of that beauty? Buon Appetito!