I was browsing the NYTimes cooking section today and came upon this recipe by Julia Moskin: a tomato, tuna pasta dish. As I read through all the comments, there were cooks who didn’t like canned tuna fish with tomatoes and preferred mozzarella cheese instead. There were those who complained it wasn’t tasty enough and added more garlic, more lemon, and so on and so on. One comment caught my eye because instead of garden ripe tomatoes (which we all know are not in season yet,) she used a fresh marinara sauce.
So, to Whole Foods I went where I picked up a container of said marinara sauce, a box of fusilli pasta (spirals) and two pots of herbs (cilantro and thyme) to add to my other two that I potted up the other day (parsley and basil.) I couldn’t decide whether or not to make it for dinner tonight or tomorrow night until it was already 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
So, I decided to make the dish anyhow – even though I didn’t have hours to let the recipe mixture marinate for 3 hours. I figured that if we ate around 6:15, it would still have over an hour and a half to do its magic. Here are the things that I added: a finely minced garlic clove (on my new box grater which is so much easier to use than my 30 year old one with large holes;) grated lemon zest (which was optional) and some fresh lemon juice (a one inch slice;) two kinds of olives (green pimiento and kalamata – about a scant fourth cup of each; a LOT of fresh herbs cut up with a small pair of scissors (basil, cilantro, parsley;) and a healthy spoonful of capers.
The canned tuna I bought at Whole Foods was “wild caught” tuna “with a line.” The marinara sauce was more runny than whole tomatoes cut up but it’s very tasty if you add a spoonful of sugar to it before using. I added some salt and pepper to the mixture and picked up a spoon to taste it with a little trepidation. WOW!! It tasted incredibly good!
When we’re about ready to eat supper, I’ll boil up some fusilli pasta and drain it well, add some freshly grated parmesan cheese to the hot pasta, and then, because there’s a lot of sauce, I’ll plate the pasta into our bowls and spoon the tomato tuna mixture on top and gently mix it together. This way, I can better control the ratio of sauce to pasta. Oh, and I sprinkled some crushed red pepper into the sauce before combining it with the pasta.
I’m happy to report that G. and I both enjoyed this new dish – and thought it was tasty and light – the lemon juice and zest in the sauce were just terrific! I’ll make this again in August when the first tomatoes start to ripen – or with freshly harvested (and hoarded) Supersweet 100 cherry tomatoes and Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes. Can’t wait!