Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ahoy, Pasta!

I have never been one for canned tune. Actually, that's unfair. I've never really been one for seafood. Period. Regardless if it comes from a can, the freezer, or fresh from the market. But when your husband loves seafood, you try to give it to him now and again.

Frozen shrimp is the easiest. Then I branched out to tilapia and started making fish tacos. While I don't roll my own, I do enjoy sushi and sashimi. And when winter came knocking back in December, it seemed like a good time to cross the final frontier: tuna noodle casserole.

Success! Everyone in the house loved it!

And that got me to thinking, Giada De Laurentiis uses canned tuna in plenty of her pasta recipes. I had dismissed them in the past because I wasn't a fan of canned tuna. And while I don't see myself eating a tuna salad sandwich any time soon, now was as good a time as any to revisit some of Giada's recipes. So I borrowed Weeknights with Giada from my public library and quickly decided "Pirate Pasta" would be the first recipe I would try. I made a few modifications to suite my family's tastes, and it was a big hit. My 5-year-old son even had a second helping! Mama must be doing something right!

Pirate Pasta

Recipe modified from Giada DeLaurentiis
Serves 4 to 8


  • 1 pound pasta (I used rotini)
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for roasting tomatoes
  • 1 medium or 1/2 large, red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 10-ounce or 2 5-ounce cans tuna in olive oil, such as Tonnino, drained
  • 1/2 cup (about 20) medium olives, pitted and halved (I used black)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons capers (rinsed and drained, if you prefer)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, roasted
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and black pepper


  1. Place tomatoes in an oven-safe dish. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast on the center rack of a 400 degree oven for 15 - 20 minutes.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup pasta water. Pour pasta into a bowl with pecorino romano cheese and toss until coated.
  3. In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, until onions are translucent.
  4. Add the tuna, olives, tomato paste, capers, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Using a wooden spoon, break up the tuna.
  5. Add the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  6. Add the roasted tomatoes.
  7. Pour tuna mixture over pasta. Toss and add pasta water if needed to loose the sauce. Top with basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with cheese if desired.

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