I saw this recipe in the San Francisco Chronicle last week and was immediately smitten. It contains three of my favorite ingredients, tuna, arugula, and pasta. And the recipe is so quick, I knew a big bowl of pasta would be in front of me within 15 minutes. And so it was. I wish the picture was prettier. I've seen gorgeous pictures of pasta on other blogs, where the strands are twirled beautifully. In contrast, the above photo shows the results when a very hungry cook flings the pasta into a bowl, and impatiently fires off a few shots with her camera. Then she sits down and eats it, muttering profound things like, "Oh yeah, now THAT'S what I was talking about!" as she gobbles it down.
If you like arugula, this is the recipe for you. Containing almost a pound in the dish, it's an ideal candidate for Weekend Herb Blogging, which was created by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, but has traveled over to Anna's, Morsels and Musings for this weekend. You should head over to her site and check out all the other herby bloggers. Arugula is often viewed as a salad green, but it's actually an herb, a member of the mustard family, which explains it's bold, nippy flavor. If you want a more muted flavor, choose young arugula, which has small leaves. Older, bigger leaves have a more pronounced flavor.
Arugula is known by other names. In England it's called rocket, roquette in France, and rochetta in Italy. Whatever it's called, it's a wonderful herb that lifts the flavor of any dish. And it's perfect tossed with hot pasta. The heat from the pasta makes the tender arugula wilt quickly, adding almost instant flavor.
This recipe uses canned tuna, but it's important to use an imported variety packed in olive oil. This isn't based on snobbery. American brand tuna, particularly the kind canned in water, is dry and lacks the flavor and texture of tuna canned in Italy, or Sardenia. I used a moderately priced brand, Tonno, that's available in most grocery stores. The tuna cooked briefly with olive oil, garlic, and red pepper, creating a very fast sauce for the pasta.
Within a couple of minutes, it wilts and coats the pasta, along with the tuna sauce. This was a great hit in our house. Even Bob, who doesn't like canned tuna, enjoyed this dish very much. I think it's delicious.
Linguine with Arugula, Tuna & Hot Pepper
(San Francisco Chronicle)
Serves 4 to 6
The amount of arugula you need for this recipe depends on how dry or damp it is at the store. If it is perfectly dry, 1/2 pound will suffice. If it has been recently misted, it will be heavier from the water, so you will need about 3/4 pound. For a more healthful dish, substitute whole-wheat linguine.
1 pound dried linguine
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, or more to taste, finely minced (I used 4 cloves.)
Generous pinch hot red pepper flakes
7 ounce (200-milligram) can imported tuna in olive oil, drained
1/2 to 3/4 pound baby arugula ( I used 3/4 pound because I like the taste of arugula.)
Instructions: Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the linguine and boil until al dente.
While pasta cooks, heat olive oil, garlic and hot pepper flakes over moderately low heat until garlic is fragrant and sizzling. Add tuna and shred it into fine flakes with a fork. Season with salt and add a few tablespoons of boiling water from the pasta pot to make the mixture moist and sauce-like. Keep warm over low heat.
Just before the pasta is ready, set aside 1 cup of boiling water. Drain pasta and return it to the warm pot set over moderate heat. Add arugula and contents of the skillet and toss vigorously with tongs, moistening with some of the reserved pasta water. The arugula will wilt in the heat of the pasta. Divide among warm bowls and serve immediately.
Per serving: 540 calories, 21 g protein, 61 g carbohydrate, 23 g fat (3 g saturated), 6 mg cholesterol, 149 mg sodium, 7 g fiber.