I’ll admit that I was skeptical about this pasta. Pecorino, capers, olives — that’s a lot of salty ingredients in one dish. It all works, though. Add fresh basil and a squeeze of lemon juice, and this feels downright light and — dare I say — healthy.
Another winning factor? My 18-month old son loved this. He couldn’t get enough!
Okay, to be perfectly honest there’s not a lot that my son won’t eat, so this wasn’t terribly surprising. But if it passes the Ethan test, it’s good enough for me. And I’m always looking for new ways to get fish into his diet (and ours!). This happens to be an affordable option.
Pirate pasta, you are welcome here any time.
Other than cooking the pasta in boiling water, the rest of this dish comes together in one pot. That’s my kind of weeknight meal.
Sauté some mushrooms in a little butter or olive oil (these are shiitakes).
…tomato paste, capers, red pepper flakes, and tuna. All into the pot.
Mix with pasta and reserved pasta water. Add remaining cheese, fresh basil and lemon juice.
You ready for this?
Seriously good. And a welcome change from the usual pasta with chicken, turkey, or beef we frequently see around these parts. You’re gonna love this!
Giada’s Pirate Pasta
*Recipe slightly adapted from Giada De Laurentiis.
Yields: 4-6 servings
Time: 10 min prep, 25 min cooking
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound penne
- 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (6 oz)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 oz mushrooms, such as cremini, button, or shiitake, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup medium green olives (about 18), pitted and halved
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- One 10 oz or two 5 oz cans tuna in olive oil, such as Tonnino, drained (use the good Italian stuff if you can find it)
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
- Place the pasta and 1/2 cup cheese in a large bowl and toss until coated.
- In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms begin to brown, 5 to 6 minutes.
- Add the olives, tomato paste, capers, red pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the tuna. Using a wooden spoon, break up the tuna into 1-inch pieces.
- Add the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove the garlic and discard.
- Pour the tuna mixture over the pasta. Add the remaining 1/2 cup cheese and the basil, and toss until coated, using the reserved cooking liquid to loosen the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.