Saucy girls

Colin's roma tomatoes

There’s a jar of spaghetti sauce that’s been sitting in the corner of my pantry since we moved to Seattle. I didn’t bring it home intentionally; it was one of those occasions where the person in front of you unwittingly donates a portion of their purchases to your shopping bag. When I brought it home the first week we lived here, in September, I was embarrassed; who buys jarred spaghetti sauce in the height of tomato season? And there it sits, a fancy brand, waiting for a night when the electricity goes out but we still have use of the gas stove for cooking.

The other night, I opened the cupboard and my eyes shot straight to that jar, where I held them, motionless, longing for the simplicity of opening a jar of sauce but knowing that pasta plus jarred sauce is a pretty sorry excuse for a recipe.

Then a friend donated five pounds of gorgeous Roma tomatoes to my countertop. I made a simple puttanesca (the same flavor sauce I have in the cupboard), and stirred in canned tuna, like we used to do in college. Simple, slightly spicy, and fast (as long as you’re comfortable with letting the sauce simmer for an hour, stirring it only when you happen to walk by), like the women it’s named for.

This nomeclature begs a question: Did Italian whores only make pasta? Or did they have other specialties?

Puttanesca 1

Pasta Puttanesca with Tuna and Capers (PDF)
Recipe 278 of 365

In early fall, when sweet, dense Roma-style tomatoes come off the vine in big, ripe bunches, finding something to do with them becomes an urgent matter. Here’s a quick way to distill five pounds of ripe tomatoes into a thick, flavorful sauce. You’ll have enough left over to spread on a pizza the next day.

TIME: 25 minutes prep time
MAKES: 6 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Cloves from 1 head garlic, peeled and crushed
5 pounds Roma or San Marzano tomatoes, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
2 (6-ounce) cans albacore tuna (the kind packed in oil), flaked
1 8-ounce jar capers, drained
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the oil, pepper, and crushed garlic, and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Blend all or part of the sauce, if desired, with an immersion blender.

Cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Stir the tuna and capers into the warm sauce, and season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Drain the pasta, return it to its pot, and add sauce to taste. Serve dolloped with extra sauce, and cheese, if desired. Serve immediately.

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Filed under Pasta, recipe, vegetables

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