Sunday, October 25, 2009
Pasta with V8 Sauce
Bear with me here. I know that this title doesn't immediately conjure up images of a delicious dinner. But trust me. This is great. True, it's made of decidedly non-gourmet ingredients, and certainly doesn't fit anyone's definition of authentic Italian. But if you have a little faith, you'll discover what I consider to be the King of Pantry Meals.
Although few Italians begin cooking by cracking open a can of a Campbell's vegetable blend beverage, the flavors in this recipe aren't too far off tradition. Spaghetti Al Tonno is a typical Italian meatless dish, featuring pasta tossed with tomato sauce and oil-packed tuna. It's a simple meal, and comes in many variations. And this dish fits right in among them. Sure, you're measuring out a commercial drink rather than stewing your own tomatoes. But it's a drink featuring a strong tomato flavor, along with the celery and carrots found in some tomato sauces. Chile flakes add some heat, the capers and olives add a nice piquancy, and the oil-packed tuna gives the dish a meaty heft. I was skeptical of this recipe I first encountered it, but it quickly got the thumbs-up in our household. Now I try to make sure we're always stocked with the ingredients to throw this together on a busy weeknight.
Pasta with V8 Sauce
adapted from the Spaghettini with Tuna and V8 Sauce in Nancy Silverton's A Twist of the Wrist: Quick Flavorful Meals with Ingredients from Jars, Cans, Bags and Boxes
I've tinkered with the quantities in the original recipe, upping the sauce-to-pasta ratio, and increasing the overall yield to ensure leftovers. And although Italians would scoff at the combination of fish and cheese, I sometimes top my serving with a bit of grated Parmesan.
1 14-oz package spaghetti
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large pinch chile flakes
2 cups V8, or other tomato/vegetable juice
2 6-oz cans oil-packed tuna (don't drain the oil)
2 Tbsp capers
1/4 cup green olives, coarsely chopped
In a large pot, boil water and cook pasta according to the instructions on the package.
While the water is coming to a boil, heat the olive oil and onion over medium-high heat in a large pot. Saute until the onion is just translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add celery, garlic, and chile flakes, and cook for a few minutes until the garlic is softened and fragrant. Add the v8, tuna and its oil, capers and olives. Stir, bring to a simmer, and reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Allow to simmer while pasta continues to cook.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the sauce. Continue to simmer for a few minutes, to allow the pasta to absorb the flavorful sauce. Season to taste with pepper and salt if needed (although the capers and olives and V8 will probably be salty enough). Enjoy.