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Tuna Pasta and White Bean Crostini

May 28, 2009


Last week, I had the pleasure of spending a couple of delightfully relaxing days with my grandmother. We chatted, took walks, and of course, ate. My grandmother is quite the cook, so you can imagine my surprise [and honor] when she left our Monday night dinner up to me. I decided to go with one of my favorite, never-fail pasta dishes. It’s a standby when the fridge is looking pretty bare, as most of the ingredients are usually in my cupboard. It’s unbelievably cheap and easy to prepare, quite delicious, and surprisingly classy. Without further introduction…

Tuna Pasta

Fill a large pasta pot with water and bring to a boil. While the water heats, prep the following ingredients:
1/2 an onion, chopped finely
2-3 cloves of garlic (to suit your taste), minced
1 lemon, halved

raid your pantry for:
6 oz. can tuna fish, packed in water-don’t drain
1/2 can (usually 14.5 oz.) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 can (again, usually 14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes–I like Whole Foods 365 petite diced tomatoes in garlic and olive oil
pasta of your choice

Once the water comes to a boil, salt it liberally and add the pasta. Preheat a large skillet and film with olive oil. Add the onion, sprinkle with salt, and saute for a minute or two. When the onions are becoming somewhat soft, add the garlic and continue to cook. Just before the garlic begins to color, add the tuna with its water, the cannellini beans, the diced tomatoes, and the zest of half a lemon. Reduce heat. When the pasta is just short of al dente, drain it, reserving a mug-full of the starchy cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss with the tuna mixture. Add the juice of 1/2 a lemon and a bit of the reserved cooking liquid. Within a few moments of tossing, the pasta should be completely cooked. Remove from heat and serve immediately, squeezing more fresh lemon juice over each portion if desired.

Because we don’t see each other all that often and there was some good wine around the house, I also thought a snazzy hors d’oeuvre was in order. The bean spread for the crostini (above) is a simple spin off of the ingredients and preparation technique of the tuna pasta.

Garlick-y White Bean Spread

1/2 an onion, very finely chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
14.5 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

the juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste

*1/2 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, or fresh diced tomatoes if you prefer

Preheat a skillet and film generously with olive oil. Add onion and saute briefly before adding the minced garlic. Add the cannellini beans just before the garlic begins to color. Toss beans with the garlic, onion and olive oil until well coated. Mash beans roughly with a potato masher or fork. Add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, toss in the tomatoes. Spread on crostini and enjoy.

*I add the tomatoes for color, if they happen to be around the kitchen. If you don’t have them, no sweat–there’s a delicious simplicity to the lemon and garlic by itself.

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