Back when Robbie and I were first dating a little over 20 years ago in Boulder, we were on a shoe-string budget so we cooked most of our meals at each others apartments.
And since pasta is so economical, it found its way on to our plates several days a week.
One my my favorites was a pasta dish with penne, tuna, capers and lemon. Robbie devised it one night after searching through the pantry. The recipe uses canned tuna–and while that doesn’t sound very fancy, it is absolutely delicious.
I decided to try making it myself yesterday–it was as good as ever and brought back many wonderful memories…
Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Robbie:
PENNE WITH TUNA, CAPERS AND LEMON
1 pound dried penne
2 12 oz cans of tuna in water—drained
1 lemon w/ the zest
3 tablespoons of capers
2 cloves of garlic
A handful of parsley–chopped
fresh cracked pepper
(Optional–shredded parmigiano reggiano)
(Optional–red chili flake)
–Bring water to a simmer in a large pot so when the time comes to add the pasta you are ready. Zest the lemon and set the zest aside. After the lemon has been zested, cut it in half and remove the seeds. Drain the tuna and set aside. Drain the capers, rinse in water, and set aside. Finely chop the garlic.
–In a large enameled cast iron dutch oven ( I like to use this because it is relatively non-stick and accommodate the pasta when it is mixed in with the sauce), or something similar. You want a pot that is relatively deep and ideally will not cause food to stick to it. Add some olive oil on medium heat (add a little more than you normally would to cook garlic). Add the garlic and cook till soft. While you are cooking the garlic, get the water in the other pot boiling vigorously, add about 2 tablespoons of kosher salt (to season the water) and add the pasta and return to a boil.
–Toss in the tuna and the capers–stir for a minute or so until the mixture is nice and hot. Season with a little kosher salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and add a generous squeeze of lemon. (You will add more later). Cover the pot to keep it warm.
–Drain the pasta and add to the pot with the tuna mixture while it is hot. Add a generous amount of olive oil and toss the pasta and tuna mixture until it is well mixed. Make sure to use enough olive oil so that the pasta is coated. Add the lemon zest and stir. Add more lemon to taste. Add more salt to taste if you need to.
–To serve, heap a portion of pasta in a bowl, add a grind or two of cracked pepper (or a touch of red chili flakes), and sprinkle chopped parsley on the top. If using parmigiano, sprinkle on top before you sprinkle the parsley.