Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Pantry Pasta

Another pantry-staple pasta dish. You can pull this together using what you have in the pantry and refrigerator. The only have-to-haves are some kind of pasta (shells or orchiette are preferred - stay in the short and chunky family), canned beans and tuna (I used ultra fancypants Italian oil-packed tuna last night, but a can of Starkist is fine too).

For crunch, I used some celery (you could use fresh bell peppers or turnip or jicama or what have you ...) and I had some scallions and dill in the fridge, so they got thrown in for freshness. Finally, I tossed in some capers for tang (try olives, giardinera or pickled onions) and chopped almonds (sub in breadcrumbs or toasted pinenuts) for crunch.
This recipe is a common fall-back for me: it's easy to adjust based on what I have on hand, and it's fast (by the time the pasta ia cooked it's just about finished). I looked back through my archive and found this tuna and bean salad (which is basically this dish, sans pasta). Here's a version where I used orzo (violating my chunky pasta rule).

So, at the risk of repeating myself, here's how you do it:

Pasta with Tuna and Beans
Serves four
  • 1 pound pasta
  • 1 8 ounce jar of oil-packed tuna, or 2 cans of tuna (olive-oil packed is best, but water-packed is ok)
  • 4 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 can of beans
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 2 handfuls chopped dill
  • 1 handful chopped toasted almonds
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Boil the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce: Saute the celery until a little softened. Add the beans, capers and scallions. When the pasta is cooked, drain it (reserving about a cup of cooking water) and add two-thirds of the pasta to the skillet (you may not need it all - add more until you have a pleasing combination of pasta and the other ingredients). Toss in the dill and almonds. Heat everything together, drizzling in a little cooking water to make the dish saucier if needed.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot or warm.

Any leftover pasta can be used in a frittata.

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