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Pasta With Tuna Sauce : Nutritious Dish Is Simple to Prepare

January 14, 1988|KAREN GILLINGHAM | Gillingham is a Los Angeles-based food writer

Ah, the holidays are done. I shopped until I dropped, I baked cookies, made candy and decorated a tree. I cooked our traditional Christmas breakfast and served a massive Christmas dinner including three desserts. I visited with friends and family. I cleaned up the mess afterward.

It felt good, but right now feels better. Now the visitors are gone. The tree is down. The food has been eaten. The work is done. This is truly my favorite time of year.

For the first few weeks after the holidays, simple food seems to taste even better than the chocolate truffles that put me through pains every December, the Christmas trifle or New Year's Eve Champagne.

Maybe part of what makes it taste so good is that it's simple food to prepare. As much a tradition as holiday fare, post-holiday food can be customary, too. To me it must be light yet nourishing, plain, inexpensive and easy. Like pasta.

Favorite Pasta Shape

One of my favorite pasta shapes is fusilli, not the corkscrews but the one that looks like spaghetti that got a perm. And one of my favorite sauces for fusilli is made with canned tomatoes and tuna.

If you can't find fusilli, use straight spaghetti. But do try to find Italian-style tomatoes for this dish and tuna packed in olive oil. These (and the fusilli) should be in stock at an Italian deli or market if your supermarket doesn't carry them.

Once you've minced some garlic (you can even buy it that way if you want), all that needs to be done is to cook the curly spaghetti locks and combine the sauce ingredients, which leaves plenty of time to sit on the couch and be glad that the holidays are over.

FUSILLI WITH TUNA SAUCE

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 to 4 anchovy fillets, optional

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 (28-ounce) can crushed Italian tomatoes

1 (6 1/2-ounce) can tuna in olive oil

Salt, pepper

1 pound fusilli or spaghetti

2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

2 teaspoons drained capers

Heat oil in skillet. Add anchovies and garlic and saute over medium heat just until garlic is tender. Stir in tomatoes and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in tuna, including oil. Simmer 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook fusilli al dente and drain. Place in large warm bowl. Add sauce and toss very gently to combine. Serve immediately sprinkled with parsley and capers. Makes 4 servings.

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