Making every bite count

01 April 2007

pasta with a history and a reunion

PJ just returned from a three-week trip to Europe. We hadn't seen each other since the wine tasting in February and hadn't talked, except for a text message from him when he was in Paris. (He'd eaten at Un Zebre a Montmartre, where we had a perfect meal the year before.) We have a long history that involved many delicious meals on three continents. There was a sushi debacle in Korea: A couple of weeks after I arrived, PJ invited me to go to Incheon, a city on the West (Yellow) Sea, with him and his friends. We decided we'd go for a nice sushi dinner. Instead of letting the woman who could read and understand Korean read the menu and select -- and I had a guidebook with a menu reader in it! -- they decided to pick and choose.
And that's the story of how we ate skate sushi, along with other exotic sea creatures, such as sea cucumber. It was the only time I'd ever wished for plain old California rolls.
We reunited over buckwheat crepes in Bourgogne, then ate a mediocre, cliche French meal my last night in Paris.
I slaved over three kinds of cookies when I met his family, then served pistachio-crusted salmon and haricots-verts for his birthday.
I'm rambling...
For a year after college, I dated a guy named Andrew. He was a bit of a food snob, which helped me hone my cooking skills. With my erratic schedule, we often ate at home, and I created multi-course feasts for special occasions. That was before I cared so much about nutrition, back when I ate meat.
The one time he made me dinner, he served me this pasta. I was a bit skeptical at first. Canned tuna? (Martha Stewart ran a story this week on canned tuna, which reminded me of this recipe.) He was so proud of his creation, and for good reason. It was delicious!

Mediterranean pasta

1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1T olive oil
1 anchovy filet
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can tomatoes, preferably plum tomatoes with no salt added
1 can Tonno tuna packed in olive oil
1 handful kalamata olives
1 t capers, drained
salt and pepper
handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
Parmesan cheese
fettucini, 1/2 package
Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil, using a large pan over medium-low heat. Add the anchovy filet (optional) and stir, breaking it up. Add the red pepper flakes, then the tomatoes. Carefully break up the tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the olives. Cook 10 minutes more. Just before serving, add the tuna and the capers. Toss the al dente pasta, mix well and sprinkle with parsley and cheese.
I served it with a salad and a Dijon vinaigrette:
2 t Dijon mustard
2T red wine vinegar
6T olive oil
pinch dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together vinegar, mustard and thyme. While still whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. The mustard acts as an emulsifier and helps keep the dressing from breaking.

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