Thursday, May 2, 2013

Pasta with Green Beans and Tuna

While I'd always prefer a fresh tuna steak, sometimes I've only got the time for the canned variety. Luckily for me, there are some really stellar canned tunas available so just because it came from a can doesn't mean that it is of inferior quality. When I was kid, there was a very short list of seafood items I'd eat - shrimp (in any form), my dad's homemade cornmeal-crusted fish sticks, and tuna salad sandwiches. I wish I could go back in time and less picky with my proteins for my parents' sake (I was pretty good with the fruits and veggies), but some of the kid-pleasing choices they made to keep me fed still hold a soft spot in my heart. All that to say, I'm not giving up canned tuna anytime soon. My tuna salad recipes have certainly evolved and tuna now makes it into my potato salad and tasty pasta recipes like this one. Looking back, I may have actually eaten this as a kid, as I would happily devour greens beans and preferred whole wheat options to white ones. As an adult, I focus on the flavor tapestry that the rich and toasty almonds, refreshing parsley, sour lemon and piquant capers form, that complex and complementary set of ingredients beautifully blending the hearty pasta, fresh and crunchy green beans and rich tuna. For a simply prepared, yet sophisticated meal from a humble can of tuna, look no further than this recipe. Even if you're eating solo with little time to spare, tuna can be so much more than a sandwich.

Pasta with Green Beans and Tuna
adapted from Martha Stewart
serves 1

Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 ounces whole wheat fusilli or other short pasta
2 ounces green beans, trimmed and halved
1 can (3 ounces) chunk light tuna, packed in water, drained
1 tablespoon natural almonds, chopped and toasted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon drained capers
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions, adding green beans 2 minutes before end of cooking. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup pasta cooking water. 

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine tuna, almonds, parsley, lemon zest and juice, garlic, and capers; season with salt and pepper. 

3. Heat olive oil over medium heat in pasta cooking pot. Add tuna mixture to oil and cook, stirring frequently, until warm, just a minute or two. Add the pasta and green beans and cook until mixture is warm. Add pasta water, a little bit at a time and stirring with each addition, until tuna mixture evenly coats the pasta. Transfer to a bowl and serve promptly.

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