I’m sure you all have yours. You know, the favorite pasta dinner that’s quick, easy, delicious and can be made with ingredients you most likely have on hand? (Of course you always have LOVE on hand, right?) Well this is mine. It’s my go-to dinner when I am out of ideas and out of a fresh protein and tired and starving and want something quick and easy. Seriously, you can get this Quick Weeknight Pasta and Tuna Dinner on the table in 35 minutes – promise.
This original recipe came from a cookbook, called Tasty – Get Great Food on the Table Everyday by Roy Finamore. One of my sons gave it to me a few Christmas’s ago. Of course, as always, I’ve changed the recipe quite a bit.
You can use spaghetti, bucatini No. 6 is very nice, or even fusilli as the pasta in this dish. You can cook the pasta to your liking and toss it together with the sauce in a bowl, off heat, or cook it 2 minutes less than al dente and finish cooking the pasta in the sauce on the heat. Either way, do add a little of the pasta water as that starchy water addition helps the sauce cling better to the pasta. Combining it in the skillet to cook a little longer does make the sauce penetrate the pasta more, providing a better taste profile, but that takes some careful watching and tasting on your part because you still want to serve it al dente. So be diligent and don’t overcook it.
Do make sure to use a high quality tuna, in a jar, packed in olive oil. No tins here. Always keep a jar in your cabinet. It may cost about $7.00 but the extra cost is well worth it for the taste and besides, this $7.00 as your protein to feed 5 – 6 people is very inexpensive compared to meat.
And this dish does very well with grated Pecorino cheese on top. I know, this would be a serious no-no to Italians who have a strict rule of no cheese on pasta with fish, but here, it really works. Pecorino for the saltiness works better than Parmigiano.
I make this dish about once every 7 – 8 weeks. It is one of the few recipes I regularly repeat and a true favorite of my husband’s. I’ve honestly been meaning to share it with you for some time and never got around to it until now. I hope you’ll fall in LOVE with it too. Quick, easy and delicious with ingredients you have on hand – all good!!
QUICK WEEKNIGHT PASTA AND TUNA DINNER – serves 5 – 6 – adapted from Roy Finamore
2 Tbs. olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 pinches of crushed red pepper flakes or one small jalepeno minced with seeds
1 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1 28 oz. can of whole plum tomatoes, preferable from San Marzano
1 (6.7 oz.) jar of Italian tuna, packed in olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
1 lb. spaghetti, bucatini No.6 or fusilli
Pecorino cheese, grated, for serving
Put a large pot of water on to boil.
Warm the oil in a large skillet, big enough to hold all of the pasta once it’s cooked. Add the garlic and hot pepper and turn the heat to medium. Cook until the garlic is very lightly colored, about a minute or two while stirring constantly. Then add the parsley and let it sizzle for 1 minute. Add in the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you take them out of the can. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat so that the sauce cooks at a steady, active simmer.
Meanwhile, once the pasta water boils, salt it well with coarse sea salt and add the pasta. Stir right away and stir it once in a while as it boils. Cook it for 4 minutes less than the package directions.
Drain the tuna and stir into the sauce, breaking it up into chunks.
When the pasta is cooked shy of al dente, ladle out a cup of the pasta water and set to the side. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, tossing and adding a little of the pasta water to loosen the sauce and finish cooking the pasta. After a minute, taste and test for doneness. Don’t add too much pasta water – you’re not making soup.
Serve immediately with LOVE. Pass the grated Pecorino. Enjoy!!
Please share with me your favorite, quick, go-to pasta dish in the comments below! 🙂