Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Case Study

It's a beautiful spring week day, which means I am spending loads of time out in the yard with the kids, digging for 'fossils' in the sand box, pulling weeds, and sitting on the patio with a cold drink. And unless dinner is prepared on the BBQ, it needs to be made in a flash - I don't want to miss any warm, energizing sun rays! The number 1 misconception of cooking from scratch must be the unavoidable involvement of processed food. I guarantee you, this doesn't have to be the case, fresh is just as fast, but one hundred times tastier. I apologize for yet another pasta dish - it seems as though pastas, breads and soups are what I get excited about, probably because I am confident any home cook rushed for time can make great, fresh food without a ton of time spent (except for the bread, I suppose!). The reason I decided to write about this particular pasta dish is because I have been making a rather similar one when I only have about 20 minutes to spare. This Jamie Oliver version truly knocks it out of the park, and I found it to be an interesting case study in using spices (cinnamon with tuna?), as well as fresh lemon and herbs (I am crazy for these!). There is always that question of, how do I know when to use what herb, when do I add it, and what can I add to bring out the flavour even more? Practicing with existing recipes can open the window of opportunity to create your very own signature dishes.

All the credits for this recipe go to Mr. Jamie. Knowing his passion for passing on a recipe, I am sure he won't mind me passing this one on to you.

Lazy Afternoon Pasta
Serves 4

Olive Oil
1 red or white onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 - 2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
a bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks chopped
1 x 28oz cans good quality plum tomatoes
2 x 10oz cans good quality tuna in olive oil, drained and flaked
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb good quality rigatoni or penne (I used seashells)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
a small handful of freshly ground grated Parmesan cheese

Heat a good splash of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan a cook the onion, chili, cinnamon and basil stalks on medium to low heat for 5 minutes until the onion has softened and is slightly sweet. Turn up the heat and add your tomatoes, tuna and a good pinch of salt. Break the tomatoes up using the back of a spoon, then bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring often. Taste for seasoning, adjust with salt and fresh pepper if needed.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water according to package directions. When al dente, drain the pasta in a colander, reserving some of the cooking water (about 1/2 cup). Toss the pasta into the tuna and tomato sauce with the roughly torn fresh basil leaves, a glug of olive oil, the lemon zest and juice and Parmesan, mix together well. Loosen the pasta with a little of the reserved pasta water if needed. Check the seasoning and serve immediately.

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