My mom makes a mean tuna pasta.
When Kyle and I first started dating—back when I was a youngin of only 16 years old and we still pretended to sleep in separate bedrooms when he stayed over at my parents’ house—my mom decided to make said pasta one evening for dinner. As we walked downstairs to the dining room, Kyle confessed to me that he really didn’t like tuna. I assured him that my mom wouldn’t be offended (she’s an amazing cook so I think she knows by now that if someone doesn’t like one of her dishes, it’s their problem and not hers).
Kyle proceeded to scarf down an entire bowl—and then asked for seconds. Meanwhile, I’m thinking, ‘gosh, he’s really good at faking it.’ I assumed it was part of his Southern boy politeness (I still couldn’t get over the fact that he called my parents ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ for crying out loud). Afterwards, he confessed that it was one of the best pastas he had ever had. I told you it was good.
Naturally, when my mom gave my sisters and I recipe books last Christmas, this tuna pasta was one of the first entries. She must have photocopied it from some magazine years ago.
But the first time I made this pasta on my own, I realized that the recipe is almost entirely irrelevant. It did not taste the same—and it occurred to me that during the dozens of times I’d watched my mom make this dish, I hadn’t seen her use a measuring tool once, let alone follow a recipe.
So, while I often enter the kitchen with the goal of making something original and interesting, when it comes to dishes like this tuna pasta, my only ambition is to make it taste exactly like it does when my mom makes it. Sure, I could always just ask her what exactly she does differently–but where’s the fun in that?
It’s taken some trial and error, but I think I’ve finally nailed the tuna pasta. When I made this last night, I couldn’t stop pestering Kyle: “Doesn’t it taste just like Anne made it?!?” His mouth was too full to reply, which I’ll take as a good sign.
The trick seems to be this: more sauce, more tuna, and more veggies (cooked, not raw) so that the pasta-sauce ratio is nearly equal.
This is a perfect summertime (or any time) pasta: light and healthy, but still oh-so-flavorful. Give it a go—even if you don’t like tuna.
Mom’s Mean Tuna Pasta
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- 3 heaping tablespoons capers
- 3 7 oz. cans tuna, drained
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 large carrots, thinly sliced
- 1 ½ cups sugar snap peas, trimmed
- 1 ½ cups broccoli florets
- 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- Plenty of olive oil and salt
- 12 oz. of pasta*
- Parmesan cheese, for grating
In a large sauce pan, heat the shallot in a generous coating of olive oil. Add the carrots and continue to stir until softened (about 8 minutes). Add the peas and broccoli and, again, stir until softened. You may want to continue to add olive oil as you add veggies—and, of course, sprinkle with salt to taste. Finally, add the red bell pepper, stir until softened, then turn off the heat. Add the tuna and capers.
Boil a large pot of water, add the pasta, and cook. While waiting for the water to boil, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar and thyme.
Add the cooked pasta to the veggie and tuna mixture. Poor the olive oil and vinegar mixture over the pasta and stir to combine. Serve warm in individual bowls (it’s great cold, too) and top with grated parmesan cheese.
*Normally, I would make this with bow ties but since Kyle and I are moving to a new apartment in only a couple short months, I’m trying to empty out our pantry so I used whole wheat penne instead.
Like everything else in my life, I like my pasta colorful.
Speaking of colorful, look who’s finished:
While my fingers are very fond of crocheting these days, sewing together granny puffy squares is only slightly more fun than stitching together knitted seams. Still, though the final construction of this scarf wasn’t quite as enjoyable as the individual components, the end result is just what I’d hoped for.
And if you thought scarf season was over…you clearly don’t live in Boston. It’s a cold rainy morning and my landlord apparently doesn’t believe in heating the building post-March so I’m happy to have a scarf to wear today.
Meanwhile, my crochet kick is still going strong:
As for my double wedding ring quilt…well, I’ve been using my seam ripper as much as my sewing machine, but it’s getting there.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to think of some indulgent treat to make this weekend since I can no longer turn to my chocolate pudding in times of stitching-induced anxiety. Sadly, I finished it off post-pasta last night, topped with a roasted marshmallow and graham cracker leftover from last weekend’s dessert-making binge:
Oh warm chocolatey goodness, I will miss you. Fortunately, I buy my sugar in bulk at Costco, so I’m sure I’ll figure out a comparably indulgent substitute soon.