Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Mother of Invention

They say that neccessity is the mother of invention and it is often the case when it comes to creating new dishes. Today's dish came about when friends dropped by one day. I invited them to stay for lunch, only remembering a short time later that I had not done any food shopping for a few days (unusual for me) and that the fridge and pantry were not exactly groaning with a cornucopia of ingredients. In fact it was looking pretty dismal - I had even run out of garlic!

I tried not to panic, took stock of the bits and pieces I did have ( a tin of tuna, tomatoes, olives, parsley and a few other things) and ended up accidentally creating a pasta dish that is now one of my favourites. My guests loved it and my hostess reputation was saved! The beauty of this dish is it's simplicity of preparation and its gorgeous fresh flavour. To top it off, it is healthy and you don't even cook the sauce. Yep, just chop the ingredients and add it to the hot cooked pasta and presto! Lunch. If you are a vegetarian you don't have to miss out - you can omit the tuna and you will still end up with a great dish, just increase the amounts of olives, parsley and tomatoes.

You can use any kind of pasta you like for this dish. The day I accidentally invented this recipe I had spaghetti in the cupboard, so that was what I used. Today I used what is probably my favourite type of pasta - Orecchiette. The literal Italian translation means "little ears", due to thier shape. I love them because whatever sauce you make gets trapped in the "little ears" and you don't end up with most of the sauce on the bottom of the plate - it stays on the pasta where it belongs. I also think they're pretty :)

So here it is, "mother of invention" pasta (serves 4)

Tuna and Olive Orecchiette

You will need: Enough pasta to serve 4 people, 2- 3 ripe tomatoes diced finely, 1/2 red onion diced finely, 1/2 cup chopped continental parsley, 1 finely chopped red chilli, 1 tablespoon chopped black olives, 2 teaspoons chopped capers, 1 tablespoon roughly chopped semi-dried tomatoes, 1 tin chunk style tuna in oil (my preferred brand is Sirena - it has a great flavour and the flesh is dense, which is ideal for a dish like this), 2 teaspoons butter, splash of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, dash of tabasco.

Method: Bring a large pot of well salted water to the boil and add the pasta. Keep an eye on it and give it the odd stir while you make the sauce. You want the pasta to be al dente, not overcooked.

Combine the fresh and semi-dried tomatoes, onion, chilli, parsley, tuna, tabasco, olives and capers.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it and then return it to the pan. Add the butter and toss it through the pasta. Add the tuna mixture, a splash of olive oil, a few pinches of salt and plenty of pepper to season.

Serve with fresh grated parmesan.


1 comment: