Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mediterranean Tuna Pasta Salad

This post is a little early because I'm supposed to leave for London tomorrow AM. Looks unlikely, but just in case, wanted to make sure I didn't depart without posting this week's recipe!

I suffer from PDD - Pasta Deficiency Disorder. I could eat pasta morning, noon, and night. But I'll admit that a diet of unfettered carbs just isn't healthy. Lucky for me, Mark Bittman wrote an article some time ago encouraging us to continue eating our pasta, but to shake it up: instead of preparing a lot of pasta with a little sauce, make a lot of vegetable-inclined sauce with a small amount of pasta. This changed my life. This week's recipe is inspired by this concept -- it's a leafy green salad with pasta mixed in, along with tuna, olives, and tomatoes.

Until recently, I had almost stopped eating tuna, due to the high levels of mercury and the large amount of bycatch from tuna fishing. However, I was delighted to discover that troll or pole-and-line caught tuna in the US is actually OK (for more information, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium). I jumped for joy and immediately went to track some down. I will admit, the can I bought was more expensive than Sunkist, but when I tasted the tuna, boy, I promise it was worth the price. Canned tuna often has a bland, almost tinny flavor. This one actually tasted like fresh, robust fish.

A few notes about this recipe: a good quality olive oil is a must. There are many good $15 bottles out there and it's worth the investment for the flavor it will bring to your salads. I had also wanted to include capers, but could not open the new jar I had bought. I ran it under hot water, tapped it with a knife, tied a rubber band around the lid, but to no avail. I think it would add a nice zing, so feel free to add a teaspoon if you have some in your fridge.

Mediterranean Tuna Pasta Salad
generously serves 2
  • slightly more than a quarter-sized round of angel hair whole wheat pasta (I like Barilla's fortified protein version)
  • 3.5 oz arugula (two generous handfuls per bowl)
  • regular olive oil for cooking
  • 1/2 t red chili flakes
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 1/4 c chopped kalamata olives
  • 1 can tuna, preferably troll or pole-and-line US caught
  • 4 Campari tomatoes, chopped
  • good quality olive oil
  • a few squirts fresh lemon juice
  • salt & pepper
First put medium pot of water on to boil. Follow cooking directions on package for al dente angel hair.

Divide arugula between serving bowls/plates. Toss with good quality olive oil (~1 T per bowl), a little lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Set aside.

As pasta cooks, in a small saute pan, heat about 1 T olive oil over medium heat. Add chili flakes and anchovy. As oil heats, use a wooden spoon or spatula to break up anchovy until it has "dissolved" into the oil. Add olives and stir briefly to coat. Add tuna and break up chunks into smaller pieces. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

By now the pasta should be fully cooked. Drain and return to pot. Pour in the tuna and another tablespoon of the good quality olive oil and toss. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and olive oil as necessary. Divide between bowls of arugula and serve immediately. Arugula will wilt a bit -- don't worry, that's what is supposed to happen!

1 comment:

  1. this looks so gorgeous- i am like you, fearful of mercury levels, so am always looking out for good tuna. i love the revamping of your website! supercool- congrats. x shayma