TrickyRicky and I have been paragons of virtue for the last few weeks; surviving of a standard breakfast of bran flakes that taste like cardboard, lunching on meat free summer salads and dining at night on simply cooked meat with steamed vegetables. We surely qualify for an award of some sort! I really shouldn’t complain as we have been very creative with salads etc. Weekends, always bring family meals and occasions which can’t possibly be tainted by the confines of our diet!
Last weekend, we attended a wedding up in the Midlands of KZN, which meant that we spent three nights at a beautiful trout fishing resort called Whispering Waters. With four dams dotted around the grounds, sprawling immaculate verdant lawns and bird life up the yin-yang; the stress of daily life and the silly season just evaporates. I am such a fan of the current ‘destination wedding’ fashion as it forces one to take time out. The obvious choice of destination in KZN is the Midlands which opens her arms wide in a loving embrace.
Tuesday evening our resolve crumbled, TrickyRicky and I agreed that a comforting plate of pasta was exactly what was needed after a long and stressful day. Like two excited children the night before Christmas we mustered up some ingredients and with me behind the camera Tricky got cracking in the kitchen.
This is one of those pasta sauces that you won’t find on any local Italian restaurant menus. However, tuna is a common store cupboard ingredient in Italian homes and often finds its way into the pasta pot. When you have just have not found the time to plan a meal this pasta sauce is a life saver. Generally tinned tuna is used in one of two ways, either in a tomato based sauce with any number of complementary ingredients or it’s used in conjunction with lots of chopped parsley, garlic and black pepper in an olive oil based sauce. I enjoy both and will make a point of making the parsley and garlic version soon. We chose the tomato based sauce route this time and used TrickyRicky’s favourite tuna from Italy (of course!). I need to plant a forest if I ever intend erasing the Tripepi carbon footprint! ….
Sugo di Tonno
Makes 4 portions
1 large onion finely chopped
2 red chillies finely chopped
4 cloves garlic finely chopped
200g sliced mushrooms
2 glasses of dry white wine
Salt & Pepper to taste
400g rosa or cherry tomatoes quartered
1 tin of tuna – either in oil or in water
1/2cup chopped fresh parsley
A ladle or two of the pasta water
1 500g packet of spaghetti (feeds 4)
Just a quick note about the pasta water; these days we have such a proliferation of wonderful tomato varieties in the shops that I only use tinned tomatoes when making large pots of sauce or, when I have forgotten to buy baby tomatoes. This means that we often add a ladle or two of the water that the pasta is cooking in to keep the sauce loose. In Italian we say that we ‘per alungare il sugo’ which translate into ‘making the sauce go further’.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
Add the whole packet of pasta, give it a good stir and stir every minute or so while you make the sauce.
Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the frying pan and brown the onion, chilli and garlic
Add 1 stock cube – chicken, vegetable or mushroom flavour
Season with a little pepper
Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan and brown lightly
Add the wine to the pan and stir well to loosen all of the caramelisation off the base of the pan and into the wine.
Cook the alcohol off.
Add the tomatoes to the pan with tuna, give it a good stir and put a lid on for four minutes,
this serves to soften the tomatoes and get them to release all their tangy juices.
Remove the lid and give your sauce a good stir, taste for seasoning and this is when you add a ladle or two of the water that the pasta has been cooked in to keep the sauce loose.
Your pasta only takes 9 minutes to cook and by the time your both your sauce and the pasta will be ready. Using one of those fantastically practical pasta lifters, which also double up as excellent back scratchers, lift the pasta out of the water, shake off the excess water and add directly to the pan full of delicious sauce. Add the roughly chopped parsley and give the pasta a really good stir making sure to coat it well with the sauce.
This week we see Sue & Anel in the Diva kitchen.
Remember that the brief for this semi-final round is to prepare your choice of a
Festive or Special Occasion meal for 4-8people in 3 hours.
The heat is on!
Saturday Morning 08.30am on SABC2
Have a fabulous weekend and if you live here in KZN, join me as I strap on my lucky charm,
chanting incantations whilst I pray for some sunshine!