I used to find it odd that culinary schools focus on chemistry as a foundation to cooking. But it makes perfect sense: to inherently understand the nuances of each ingredients and its best pairings, no recipes or research needed, is to truly cook.
The inspiration for this recipe comes from an unlikely source. A friend’s hairdresser, who moved to NYC from Italy years ago, has been spouting off simple Italian recipes to her during haircuts. For him, the recipes are obvious…they are traditional dishes his family has been cooking forever. Moral of the story: I need a new hairdresser. Also, maybe if I spend enough time exposed to the diverse food scene in NYC I will magically absorb the knowledge and instincts to cook up curries and pho without hesitation. A girl can dream, right?
For this dish there is no sauce per se. It’s all about combining a few pantry staples in a saute pan to bring out the flavors. Feel free to add lemon juice or red pepper flakes, or keep it basic.
12 oz of whole wheat spaghetti (about 3/4 of this bag)
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup of capers, drained
2 tablespoons of basil, chopped or chiffonade, and 2-3 full leaves for garnish
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of arugula, packed
1 can of tuna, in water or oil (I used Trader Joe’s albacore tuna in oil)
Olive oil, sea salt
Cook pasta according to directions on package. Make sure to reserve about 1/4 cup of starchy pasta water before straining your noodles. Set the water aside. In a large saute pan, simmer your minced garlic over medium heat in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 2 minutes. Add in the basil, tomatoes, and capers and continue to simmer the ingredients for 5 minutes.
Next, scoop out the tuna from the can and add to the saute. Stir thoroughly and continue simmering the ingredients together for 5 additional minutes.
If your saute pan is large enough, add the noodles, pasta water, and another tablespoon of olive oil and let cook for 1-2 minutes. If not, simply combine all of the ingredients in a pot and stir constantly over heat for 2 minutes. While the pasta is still hot, add in the arugula, stirring it in until it begins to soften. This adds the peppery component. Top with fresh basil leaves and sea salt and serve!