It’s a cold December afternoon and, lucky me, I’ve a day off work, I can cook my lunch. I like taking my time with these things, even if it’s just to appreciate the fact that I can taste my food, and not rush to get out the door on time or to take out the rubbish or do another load of washing or… you get the picture. Slowing down, in general, helps me re-focus on the important things, like food.
With slowing down in mind, I wonder what was left in the fridge? Well, half a tin of tomatoes, some jars of things half full and a rock hard rind of Grana Padano (oops, I forgot about that…) Fridge almost bare, I go to the cupboard. Thankfully, it’s well stocked with my store cupboard essentials: tinned tomatoes, tinned fish, tinned pulses/beans and jarred lovelies like olives, capers, jams, pickles, mustard.
I went for some big flavours today with the tomato, tuna, capers and black olives, more towards thoughts of summer time at the seaside, eating big bowls of fresh fish in the evening heat, than cold, dark wintry afternoons indoors.
Pasta with tuna, tomato, capers and black olives
75g dried pasta, short or long, you decide
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
Half a tin (about 200g) plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon tomato purée
60g tuna in oil, a small tin
2-3 anchovies in oil (optional)
2 teaspoons capers in brine
6 olives in brine (or less if they’re in salt or super salty)
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of sugar (optional)
dash of wine vinegar (optional)
Put on the water for the pasta and cook according to packet instructions.
On a medium heat, gently fry the tuna, with the oil from the tin, in a frying pan. If there isn’t enough, add a little olive oil. Bonus points here if your tuna is in olive oil, you fancy pants! Add some anchovies here, if using, and leave to mingle for 2-3 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and tomatoes, squash them if they’re not already chopped. Leave this to bubble on a medium heat for a few minutes, until the liquid has reduced to make a pasta-clinging sauce.
Add the olives and capers. Check the seasoning at this stage. If it’s slightly sharp, add a pinch of sugar. It will help to round out the flavour of the tomato. Similarly, if the sauce is a little sweet or cloying, add a dash of wine vinegar and that should balance the flavour.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pasta from pot to pan and mix. Check the seasoning again and serve in a big bowl with some summery music, Christmas shopping online and comfy slippers.