During the early days of lockdown, I had this can of tuna sitting by its lonesome, surrounded by larger cans and bottles of tomatoes, mushrooms, artichokes, chickpeas and corned beef. I knew I had to dress it up because I wasn't going to turn into a sad salad dressing or a bread spread. I also didn't want it swimming in deep-fried oil. A few minutes of foraging later, a pasta version was the most reasonable option I could find ... it was also the laziest choice, but you know what, that's the thing with this lockdown; there are times when I just don't feel like managing my time wisely or getting all fancy with cooking or baking; and all I want to do is stay comfortable in my cotton pyjamas and terry cloth headband, shuffling around the apartment bleary-eyed and rummaging for sustenance. And if you feel this way, that's okay. There's always pasta to brighten your day. Did I just make a short poem? :-D
Understandably, certain ingredients are not always available, so I am sharing this recipe in the hope that you can recreate this pasta dish with options you can replace for optimal results. No fusilli? No problem; grab whatever pasta you have in the pantry -- macaroni, penne, linguini, farfalle, even an assortment if you have half-opened boxes stored. Kale can be a bit difficult to chew, especially if you haven't trimmed the stems, and if this is not readily available, you can also substitute this with spinach or alugbati, also known as Malabar nightshade, and rich in antioxidants and fibre, or mustard greens like mizuna. You can also interchange the cream with whole milk, and use whatever hard cheese you can procure.
Cooking time: 30 minutes
250 grams fusilli or any pasta (half of package)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can of tuna in oil or brine
125 ml cream or whole milk
1 pack fresh kale, cut stems
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
Grated hard cheese (gruyere, parmesan or pecorino)
2 slices lemon, for juice and zest
1 sprig parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Chili flakes (optional)
1. Boil fusilli in salted water for 12 minutes, or according to package instructions. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in deep skillet set to medium.
2. Toss in garlic. After 2 minutes, add kale. Let it steam for about 5-6 minutes. You can squeeze a bit of lemon juice on the vegetables and grate the zest to release the aroma.
3. Add tuna. Squeeze remaining lemon juice and add zest. Stir constantly to mix all the ingredients. Sprinkle some salt, pepper and chili flakes.
4. Stir in cream (or whole milk). Bring it just to a boil, then simmer at medium-low heat for approximately 10 minutes. You can add more salt, pepper and chili flakes if you wish. Grate cheese on cream sauce and stir slowly. Add parsley shreds.
5. By now, your pasta should have cooked. Turn off heat and using a slotted spoon or ladle, scoop pasta into the sauce. Coat together. Sprinkle stale bread crumbs and mix together for added texture for the pasta. Transfer to plates or bowls. Sprinkle more grated cheese if you wish.