Consider the Humble Can of Tuna…

27 Apr

I like paper. I still read one, along with a slew of magazines and books with pages to dog-ear. This is probably wasteful. I know this. But old habits die hard and, well, you don’t even know the half of it.

In this paper-clipped world to which I cling, there’s a lot of recipe clipping that occurs on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, many of these wind up stuffed between pages on my cookbook shelf, piled up on the desk, or, for the lucky ones, stick-pinned to a corkboard near the sink in the kitchen. And it’s from there that I rescued this one from the January 2012 Bon Appetit: Linguine with Crab, Lemon, Chile, and Mint.

The first time I made it, I followed the recipe exactly – ingredient by ingredient – shopping for the fresh crab, linguine, chilies, and mint so that it would be all that I’d hoped. And it was. The sweetness of the crab, the heat of the peppers, the brightness of the mint and citrus. Dan and I ate in total silence, looking up only once from our bowls. I raised eyebrows to beckon confirmation, and he gave it with mouth full: “So good!”

Fast-forward to a bleary-eyed worknight when I walked through the door, starving and tired, and a text came from Dan saying he was close on my heels and in exactly the same crazed, empty-stomached state. But there was nothing! Bare fridge. Random ingredients. Confused mind from the disorienting clang of hunger pangs. And then I looked up and saw that recipe, stick-pinned back in its spot on the board, and had a thought: “You know, you could probably make that with tuna and dried red pepper…”

Most of the simple cupboard ingredients – pasta, can o’ tuna, dried red pepper – were there. I had a lemon and a couple of shallots and some garlic. No mint, but we’d survive. And so Thursday Night Tuna with Pasta was born.

The thing about this is, just like I subbed out crab for tuna, you can mess around and try other swimmy, crawly sea dwellers, too. Anchovies might be a bit too strong here without a sweet element to balance them out, but if you want to work in more sustainable terms, blue fish (yes, I said it!) or possibly even sardines could be a good alternative.  Point being: You can do this in a half hour with, in all likelihood, stuff you’ve got on-hand. Dig it! With a fork.

Linguini with Tuna, Lemon, Red Pepper, & Mint (*adapted/altered from Bon App’s Linguine with Crab, Lemon, Chile, & Mint)
(serves 2 with a little bit leftover)

1/2 lb linguini
Sea salt
4 TBSP unsalted butter (unless you have salted–then just use that, for pete’s sake)
2-3 TBSP olive oil (I start it with my standard; finish it with the better stuff)
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried hot red pepper
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Pinch white pepper
1 5-oz can Italian light tuna in olive oil
2 TBSP mint, if you’ve got it (mine, dormant in pots from last summer, is back in action–sweet!)

Cook pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions (unless you’ve made your own – then use the Force, Luke).  Drain and reserve about a cup or so of the pasta water.

In a large saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Toss in the shallots and cook until they start to soften. Add the garlic and dried red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, about a minute more.

Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and a quarter cup of the pasta water and the pinch of white pepper. Cook until liquid starts to reduce; about 1 minute. Add in your cooked pasta and toss to coat (tongs are your friend). Add a little more of the pasta water, toss again, and cook for a minute. Pasta should look shiny. Add the rest of the butter, the lemon juice, the zest, the tuna (fork it into the pan to avoid spilling all the oil from the can in there), and half the mint. I throw in a little sea salt if I think it needs it. If it’s looking dry, add a little more pasta water. Divvy up between bowls, sprinkle the rest of the mint on top, and have at it.

DRINK: I happened to have an open bottle of Terradora Falanghina, and that’s what we drank – which was pretty darned nice.

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2 Responses to “Consider the Humble Can of Tuna…”

  1. Cindy April 27, 2012 at 2:38 am #

    This sounds delicious! I just pinned it.

    • hungercompass April 27, 2012 at 2:45 am #

      Hee. Thanks, C! Your blog has long been an inspiration for me. I loved the Working Kitchen post, by the way. Awesome. Own it!!! 🙂

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