17 August 2011

Tuna Pasta (not tuna casserole)

I do my best to plan all of our meals the weekend before so we aren't tempted to go out and spend money. Once in awhile I over plan what we need, such was the case a couple of weeks ago when we had more leftovers from the BBQ than I expected. We were supposed to just have simple tuna melts, so holding off on using the tuna was easy. It came to make the shopping list last week and I figured in our cans of tuna to our meal plans, of course, to save some money.
This month has been very expensive with two trips and both of our birthdays, so we could use any boost to our budget possible. Tuna melts just didn't sound that exciting, though. And Shawn doesn't like tuna casserole--yes, that's right. I like tuna casserole. My mom always made a good tuna casserole and I don't care what anyone thinks. He's generally not a fish guy, but I got him to agree to let me make a tuna-based sauce for pasta this week. I thought the Italian influence would make up for any doubts he had about the pasta. Borrowing some ideas from Lidia's Italy, I set off on my course.

This week we've started to reap the rewards from the meager planting I did out in the garden this summer. It's been a late start for summer in the Pacific Northwest, so a lot of vegetables are only now starting to pop up. We're getting quite a few lemon cucumbers and my green beans are starting to come in, and for this dish I used the beet greens from the beets I just pulled and used to make a Mexican-influenced beet salad. It's such a shame to watch good greens go to waste. I used some previous ones in a scramble with prosciutto and brie a couple of weeks ago. With all the flavors happening in this dish, you really don't notice them much, but at least we're getting some more vitamins.

Now, let's talk tuna. The $.69 can of Chicken of the Sea isn't going to do it here. Lidia recommends buying the good stuff--the Italian tuna packed in olive oil. I was hoping for this dish to be a more-or-less budget meal, so that wasn't going to happen. We generally buy a better brand of tuna that is wild caught and such, and I try to buy it on sale, so each of my cans cost about $2.50. If you consider how high in protein and low in fat tuna is, it's not a bad deal. This sauce is going to go a long way, too.

Not being a big fan of capers, I opted for some leftover olives we had from a antipasti night we had a couple weeks ago
Beet greens all chopped up and ready to go
First, add about 1/4 cup of olive oil to a pan to heat up over low to medium heat. Add red pepper flakes and sliced garlic. When it starts to smell of garlic, add the beet greens.

I didn't let the greens cook until tender since they would be getting more simmering time. After they turn bright greens, throw in the olives for a quick swirl in the pan.

Add hand-crushed plum tomatoes and its juice to the pan and bring to a light boil. Turn down to simmer until some of the liquid has evaporated. Add your rinsed tuna (I used two 6 oz cans).

After adding the tuna, you might have to break it up a little with the back of your spoon. I didn't finish simmering off a lot of the liquid since I made it the night before we were to use it. I like my pasta sauce to be a little thicker, so simmer until it has reached the consistency you prefer.

I toasted the pasta and made it more in the style of risotto to get a little more robust flavor to go with this very hearty sauce
Shawn, the non-fish eater, even said he liked it and doesn't mind eating it again tomorrow for leftovers. And there you have it! A way to get a non-fish eater to eat fish.

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