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Spaghetti with Tuna and Herbed Bread Crumbs (Spaghetti con Tonno e Mollica)

 I quote Mr. Jukefly himself: This is the best tuna dish I’ve ever had… nom nom nom nom nom… He could just be motivated because he was starving by the time I was finished cooking. So, note to self: starving boyfriend + prolonged cooking = much appreciated dish. This dish is traditionally made with anchovies – which I find just as good but not as filling as tuna.
Good quality tuna is a must. By this I suggest getting the kind that is packed in oil(gasp!). Good lord, I don’t get the bad rap about this. An average family consumes high processed types of food here in America – McDonald’s, sugary cereals, soda, etc. Chances are, canned tuna in oil is the least likely to kill you. With the choices readily available at the stores, it’s not difficult to find the good stuff. My recommendation is As Do Mar, this is canned tuna that needs no fluff to make it palatable. Open the can and take a whiff: no hint of the “fishy” smell. The meat actually looks like fish instead of mush. Squeeze a little lemon juice and serve with brown rice and slices of tomatoes and onions – that’s dinner ready in 5 minutes.

For this dish, I use what I had on hand: sun dried tomatoes, lots of garlic , red chili flakes and cilantro. The sun-dried tomatoes adds a whole depth of flavor to the sauce – making it a little richer, sweet and tangy.
Fresh bread crumbs is what I typically use because it taste better than the canned version. If you don’t have time to make fresh bread crumbs, Panko is a great alternative. The bread crumbs add great texture to the pasta – but can take away from the flavors you just built with the tuna sauce.  Most recipes I read simply fried the bread crumbs – which is fabulous in itself. But take advantage of the flavors imparted from the tuna and sun-dried tomatoes’ oil – kick it up a notch with those crumbs!

I’ve been playing around recipe instructions that are hard to capture in the video, picture or words… OK I lie – I’m too lazy to write it. It’s starting get a little bit boring writing it without sounding like I’m repeating myself over and over (stir.. mix well…blah blah blah) But let me know of what you think about the illustration about timing making the sauce and cooking the pasta.

Spaghetti with Tuna and Herbed Bread Crumbs (Spaghetti con Tonno e Mollica)
Serves 4 people

Tuna packed in olive oil
1 pound spaghetti
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes

1 tablespoon olive oil + more as needed
salt and pepper as needed

Toast the breadcrumbs  – Combine the bread crumbs, oil from the tuna and sun-dried tomatoes in a pan.  Use just enough oil until the bread crumbs are well coated. Toast in medium heat until bread crumbs become golden. Set aside.

Clean the same pan and heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in medium heat. Add the garlic and chili flakes, cook for 30 seconds. Add the tuna, breaking up the pieces. Add the sun dried tomatoes. Cook for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions in the package. Reserve 2 cups of pasta water prior to draining the pasta. Turn the heat back on the tuna, 5 minutes prior to when the pasta is done cooking. (see illustration below for timing the pasta and the sauce)

Add the reserved pasta water into the tuna sauce, adding 1/2 cup at a time until you get enough liquid to coat the pasta. Add the pasta into the pan and toss until the pasta has fully absorbed the liquid. Add the bread crumbs, reserving some to serve on the side.



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