Sunday, March 24, 2024

Joey's Pasta and Tomatoes with Tuna Sauce


  Usually, when you think of tomato gravy, (or sauce as you may say in your family), you think of meatballs, am I right? Or probably at least some sort of long-simmered meat sauce.... mmm you just can't beat a delicious Sunday Gravy that has cooked all day. You may also think of adding hot or mild Italian sausage, sometimes even chicken or crabs. (OMG I LOVE linguine with crab gravy). But have you ever made a tomato sauce with tuna??
 I must say it's not usually my go-to, but I was in a pasta kinda mood, and I was looking in my pantry for something to add to the pan along with my jars of home canned Jersey tomatoes, and then I saw a big can of tuna. I immediately remembered when my sister, Jeanie, made a rigatoni dish with tuna many many years ago, and I thought AHA! This is the answer! 
 Well, of course, I had no recipe.... I just started throwing things into a pan, whatever sounded good, whatever I had on hand. Lo and behold! It turned out great!! Like, much better than I expected, if I'm being honest. The most surprising thing I noticed is how fresh and light it was. Do you know how sometimes you eat a big dish of pasta and you feel like a ton of bricks afterward? That was not the case with this one. I even had seconds, and it was just enough to hit the spot without being to much.
 So then I got to thinking, this is the perfect dish to serve if you like to do Meatless Mondays (yes, thats a thing) or if you religiously choose not to eat meat on Fridays. Serve it with some warm crusty bread and a nice schmear of butter and you'll be living your best life. I promise! Try it!

1 lb box of your favorite shape of cut pasta (I used cavatappi)
several big glugs of good olive oil 
1 small onion, minced
3 or 4 large cloves of garlic (or more to taste), sliced
A dozen or so fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 heaping tbs tomato paste
2 large cans crushed tomatoes (or your home canned tomatoes)
a sprinkle of salt and crushed red pepper flakes to taste
1 large (or 2 small) cans white albacore tuna, drained well
a handful of fresh basil, chopped
Grated Parmesan cheese
  In a large pot of boiling salted water, add your pasta and boil until it's just about but not quite tender. 
Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan or pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Now add the onions, grape tomatoes, and garlic. Saute and stir until everything starts to break down a bit. The onions will soften, the tomatoes will give off their juice, the garlic with soften and sizzle. Now add the tomato paste. Stir well so that it mixes with the oil and starts to become a deeper crimson color. Now it's time for your crushed tomatoes. Add them, juice and all, to your pan. Give it a good stir, add your seasonings and basil. Let it simmer for a few minutes while you drain your can(s) of tuna. Add your tuna to the sauce and give it gentle stir, breaking it up slightly, but not completely. I like to leave a few chunks in tact. 
 Drain your pasta well. If your sauce pan is large enough, drop your pasta into the sauce, and gently toss to combine. If your pan isn't that big, place the pasta in a large serving boil, and pour sauce over it. If you want your pasta to be a little more saucy, just add a little bit of the pasta water to it. 
Top with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

If you're so inclined, try this recipe with the tuna that is packed in olive oil and imported from Italy. It's a bit softer and a little more expensive, but boy is it good!
Be sure to add enough salt to your pasta boiling water. A little sprinkle isn't gonna cut it. Try an entire handful instead. The water should taste salty like the ocean!
This sauce loves a little extra spice, do you? Add a bit more of the crushed red pepper flakes!
Would you like to stretch this recipe to feed more people? Try adding some sliced zucchini or yellow summer squash with your sauteed grape tomatoes. It goes really well with this sauce and you'll have enough to feed an army!

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