Tuna Casserole Pasta Salad

September 13, 2015

Tuna Casserole Pasta Salad - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

 

Margaux says…

I know, I know…why am I posting about something boring like tuna pasta salad? Where’s the cake? Cookies? Cupcakes? It’s end of summer harvest…where are the tomatoes? Zucchini? Sweet corn? Well, sometimes I have nothing in the pantry but a couple of cans of tuna, some pasta, some frozen peas and some parsley.  When I desperately need to go grocery shopping, it’s likely that I have those things. So I make this tuna pasta salad, a recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated 30-minute suppers magazine that I’ve vowed to post all of my favorite recipes from.

And this is not your normal tuna pasta salad. It’s not mayonnaise-y or sweet. It has great flavor and a little bit of a bite from the lemon, garlic and Dijon mustard. I like to serve it on a bed of arugula, and if I have them on hand, with a handful of cherry tomatoes thrown in, too. The original recipe calls for toasted breadcrumbs on top, which I don’t love the texture of, but I’ll include the steps to that for those of you who would like it!

Tuna Casserole Pasta Salad

adapted from 30-Minute Suppers from America’s Test Kitchen, Fall 2010 edition

2 slices high-quality white sandwich bread, torn into pieces (optional)

1/2 cup olive oil (plus 1 tbsp if doing bread crumbs)

3 tbsp juice from one lemon

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 (6-oz) cans tuna packed in water, drained and flaked into large chunks (I like the “chunk light” tuna)

1 pound small shells

2 cups frozen peas

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. If doing bread crumbs, pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground, about 6 pulses. Heat 1 tbsp oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and 1/2 tsp salt and cook, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl.

2. Whisk lemon juice, mustard, garlic, Worcestershire, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper together in large bowl. Slowly whisk in remaining oil. Gently toss tuna with 1/4 cup dressing in separate bowl.

3. Meanwhile, add shells and 1 tbsp salt to boiling water and cook until almost al dente. Add peas to pot and cook additional 1 minute. Drain pasta and peas and rinse with cold water. Add pasta, peas and parsley to bowl with remaining dressing and toss to coat. Gently fold in tuna and season with salt and pepper. Serve, topping each portion with bread crumbs.

Serve over a bed of arugula, or by itself with a green salad on the side.

Creamy Chickpea Pasta with Garlic-Rosemary Oil

Aunt Suzy says . . .

We’ve started something new here at Sweet and Savory Kitchens – Pasta Wednesdays. The idea is something quick and easy to make on a weeknight without sacrificing freshness and deliciousness. I got the idea when I made the Garlic and Kale Linguine a while back, so technically that could be considered our first Pasta Wednesday post. While this recipe (from last month’s Bon Appetit) isn’t quite as fast, it definitely fits. It caught my eye because I had some Garlic-Rosemary oil in the fridge left over from when I last made this soup. The quantities in that recipe always make more of the oil than we use at the time so I was happy to learn of a good additional use for it. And this is good! This can be a weeknight main dish or you can serve it, as we did, as a side to roast chicken or fish. Delicious with a creamy Italian white wine.

Margaux says…

I’m loving Pasta Wednesdays! Mainly because it helps give me a sort of direction when I’m meal planning for the week. We do Meatless Mondays at my house, so that’s two days now that I have narrowed down a little more. Now maybe I should add a pizza night in there, to make my job even easier…

This dish is fantastic…even my finicky 4-year-old gave it a thumbs up. We ate it as a main dish, with plenty of leftovers (which I love…makes lunches easy!!) I made it with white beans and penne pasta (as seen on Smitten Kitchen…see cook’s notes below). The white beans because that’s what I had on hand, and the penne because that’s what my son chose, and these days I’ll make anything he picks just so he’ll eat what I make for us. I probably would have chosen rotini, because i like the way sauces like this stick to the pasta. It was really great with the white beans, but next time I’m going to try it with the chick peas, which sounds really fantastic.

Use this recipe to make the Garlic-Rosemary Oil

1 medium onion, cut in chunks
1 medium carrot, peeled, cut in chunks
1 celery stalk, cut in chunks
4 whole garlic cloves
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
10-ounces small pasta shapes (I used Lumachine – see Cook’s Notes)

Place the first 6 ingredients into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Place into a bowl and clean the food processor bowl. Set both aside. Alternatively, if you do not have a food processor, you can finely chop these ingredients and then blend together in a bowl.

Place the olive oil into a large heavy pot or skillet (I used a saute pan) over medium heat. Once shimmering add the chopped vegetables. Saute for 10 or so minutes, until golden, stirring regularly. Meanwhile, stir the tomato paste into 1 cup of water to blend. When vegetables are cooked, add the tomato water and blend thoroughly, scraping up any bits stuck to the pan. Let simmer until liquid has almost disappeared, 5-8 minutes.

Creamy Chickpea Sauce

Add the chickpeas and 2 cups water to the pan. Stir to blend and then simmer for 15 minutes covered and 5 or so uncovered. Put 1 cup of this mixture into the food processor and puree. (You could use a blender for this in the absence of a food processor.) Add back to the pan and stir to blend. Taste and add salt, if needed. I did not add salt to the sauce – even with rinsing, there was plenty of salt in the chickpeas.*

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente according to directions. I emphasize al dente because otherwise I think you could end up with a gloppy mess. Part of the goodness of this dish is mouth appeal, and you do not want to lose that with overcooked pasta! Reserve a cup of pasta water before draining. Add drained pasta and 1/2 cup pasta water to the chickpea sauce. Stir to blend, adding more pasta water if necessary to coat the pasta and attain a creamy consistency. Pass the Garlic-Rosemary oil so it can be drizzled on individual servings. Don’t hold back on this key component of the finished dish!

COOK’S NOTES: I was looking at Smitten Kitchen the other day and saw something that looked similar to this except with white beans and penne pasta. On closer look, it was her take on the Bon Appetit recipe. (You can check it out to see several great photos of the cooking process.) Regarding the pasta, the original recipe called for a full pound of Ditalini and suggested elbow macaroni as a substitute. I think any small pasta shape would work well. I cooked the whole pound as instructed, but felt that it was way too much pasta and didn’t stir it all into the sauce. I will definitely make this again and try whole wheat pasta, thinking it will add to both taste and texture.

*Margaux’s note on the salt…my boys like their food on the saltier side, so I definitely needed to add more salt. I added about a teaspoon of it.

Cincinnati Chili

March 12, 2011

Cincinnati Chili - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

Aunt Suzy got me a subscription to Bon Appetit, so you’ll probably be seeing a lot of posts with recipes from it. I love this magazine! It gives me tons of (much needed) ideas for weeknight dinners, and this one was one of them. The minute I saw the photo of it when I turned the page, I knew I had to make it. See, I grew up in Steak N’ Shake country, and this looks exactly like one of my favorites, Chili 5-Way. Of course, once I looked at the ingredients I knew that Cincinnati chili is much different from the Steak N’ Shake classic…I’m sure S N’ S doesn’t put cocoa powder in theirs…but that made me want to make it even more. And it is DELISH (I hate to say it, but worlds better than S N’ S Chili 5-Way)!

There’s only one small change I made to the recipe-I’m not from anywhere near Cincinnati, so I’m not sure if this small step makes it unauthentic-but the recipe calls for mixing the beans with the spaghetti noodles, and I’m recommending stirring the beans into the chili mixture instead. The small beans did not mix well with the long noodles, and it was difficult to get a good ratio of beans-to-noodles going in each bowl.  Also, because I was on a budget, I made it with ground beef instead of ground lamb, which is what the original recipe calls for.  I’m sure that would be fantastic, and I will be trying it sometime!

Cincinnati Chili - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Margaux’s post inspired me to run right out and to get the ingredients for this so I could make it immediately!  The recipe had also caught my eye in Bon Appetit – I’m a Steak N’ Shake girl, and I’ve loved Skyline Chili when I’ve had it in Cincinnati .  This is a “fancied-up” version – you can see more about authentic Cincinnati chili on this episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  I made some adaptions as well.  I cooked the meat first without the olive oil, then removed from the pan, sauteed the onions and garlic in a little olive oil, put the meat back in and proceeded with the recipe from there.  I used a combo of ground chicken/ground turkey and chicken stock.  It worked out well, which I thought it would since I do the same for sloppy joes. Be careful about the spices!  I inadvertently added 1 teaspoon of cloves, so the whole thing had slight clove overtones – it’s one strong spice!  I agree with Margaux that this is delicious and a fun Saturday or Sunday supper.

Cincinnati Chili
adapted from Bon Appetit

serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, lamb, turkey or chicken
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • scant teaspoon ground allspice
  • scant teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • scant teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 2 1/3 cups (about) low-salt beef broth or chicken stock, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • scant tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon (packed) brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 1 15-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed, drained
  • Coarsely grated goat’s-milk Gouda cheese or goat’s-milk cheddar cheese
  • Chopped onions
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large deep skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add the meat; cook until browned, breaking into pieces, about 15 minutes. Add cocoa and next 4 ingredients; stir 3 minutes. Stir in 2 cups broth and next 6 ingredients. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered until thickened, stirring often, about 1 hour. Spoon fat from top of chili. Season with salt and pepper. Thin with broth by 1/3 cupfuls. Stir in beans and 1 tablespoon parsley.
  • Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Transfer to large bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Divide spaghetti among bowls. Top with chili. Garnish with cheese, onions, and parsley.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Every week Salon.com has what they call Kitchen Challenge, where they pose a type of food or specify ingredients and ask people for their best recipes.   These are often informative, usually lots of fun and provide ideas for new recipes.  Last week was no exception when they asked people to send in “your best combinations of beer and sausage”, asking that people think outside the bun.  The winner was this recipe for sausage and kale braised in dark beer and tossed with pasta.  The author had a sense of humor in that the recipe includes beer, sausage and mustard!  Everything except the bun :-).   We really enjoyed this with the arugula-mint salad that follows, and I thought the Valpolicella I served was a great match.  (sorry the photo is so dark!)

The Sausage-Kale Pasta

1 pound small pasta

EV olive oil for sauteing

4 fresh Italian sausages, meat removed from casings

1 white onion

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound kale, inner stems removed and chopped in 2-inch pieces

1 12-ounce bottle dark beer (we used porter)

1 tablespoon mustard (more or less to taste)

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

Grated Parmesan for serving

NOTES ON INGREDIENTS: The original recipe called for spaghetti, but I thought it would be easier to eat with small pasta shapes.  We used Strozzapreti, having just gotten some on sale.  We used 2 hot and 2 mild Italian sausages made with turkey – pork would also be delicious.  We used Lacinato kale (also on sale!), but I think the curly would work just as well, although it would take longer to become tender.

DIRECTIONS: Coat the bottom of a large Dutch oven with olive oil.  Heat to medium high and add the sausage meat.  Brown till just done breaking up into pieces.  When done, remove the sausage and set aside.  Wipe out any stray bits of sausage from the pot, but leave all the good brown stuff – the fond – in the bottom.  Put in a little more olive oil and add the onion.  Saute over medium heat until soft, scraping up the bits off the bottom of the pan.  I found that those bits started burning a little after about 3 minutes, so I added a small amount of the beer to deglaze the pan.  Add the garlic when the onion is soft and stir for a minute till it becomes fragrant.  Add the prepared kale and stir until it’s wilted – you might have to do this in more than one batch.  Add the cooked sausage and the beer, bring to a bubble, reduce heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the kale is tender.

In the meantime, cook the pasta according to directions till al dente.  Drain, saving 1/4 cup of pasta water.  Stir the mustard into the pasta water and then add, along with salt and pepper, to the kale-sausage mixture. Add the Parmesan and stir to blend everything.  Stir in the pasta and heat back to serving temperature.  Serve in bowls and pass the extra Parmesan.

The Arugula-Mint Salad

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely ground in a mortar

2 tablespoons EV olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or a mix of the vinegar and lemon juice to equal 1 tablespoon

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

6-8 cups greens – a mix of baby lettuces and arugula (I found a bagged mix)

20 or so mint leaves

Make the dressing by combining the fennel, olive oil, red wine vinegar and lemon juice, mustard and salt and pepper.  Whisk until slightly emulsified.  Combine the greens and the mint, then wash and dry.  Place in a salad bowl and toss with the dressing.  Garnish each bowl with a couple of mint leaves.  This salad is a refreshing Wow!

Aunt Suzy says

Upon seeing Margaux’s recent post on Fettucine with Asparagus, Peas and Pancetta, I thought “I will be making this!”.   I too love pasta and had just purchased asparagus and sugar snap peas at the farmer’s market.  Margaux’s remark that a vegetarian version of this might also be nice, prompted me to make this as a veggie side dish to accompany the salmon I was planning to make for dinner.  I made modifications based on what I had on hand.  This was delicious and I can’t wait to make the original recipe with the pancetta!

Pasta with Asparagus and Sugar Snap Peas in Lemon-Herb Sauce (by Aunt Suzy Test Kitchen :-))

12 ounces small pasta (I used tri-color fusilli)

2 to 2-1/2 cups asparagus, cut into 1-inch lengths

2 to-2 1/2 cups sugar snap peas, strings removed and cut into 1/4-inch lengths

4 large scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)

The dark green part of the scallions, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

juice of one lemon

zest of one lemon

1/4 cup parsley, or more to taste

1/4 cup basil, or more to taste

1/2 cup parmigiano, grated, plus more for passing

Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Before draining, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta liquid.  Drain pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile, place the asparagus in a saute pan and cook for 1 minute in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil at medium high heat.  Turn the heat down to medium and add the sugar snaps, the sliced green onions (white and light green parts) and garlic.  Saute for 3-4 minutes more, then put the lid on the pan and cook for 2 more minutes.  The vegetables will get slightly brown on the bottom of the pan which will add extra flavor. 

Place the cooked pasta into a large pot and add the vegetable mixture.  Stir to combine and then add 1/4 cup of the pasta water, the green parts of the scallions, the lemon zest and juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, the parsley and basil.  Stir to combine and then add the parmigiano cheese, stirring to thoroughly mix in.  Add additional pasta water a little at a time if too dry, which I did not have to do.  Serve with extra parmigiano to pass.

Margaux says

I love pasta dishes.  I would eat pasta every night for dinner if the rest of my household felt the same as me.  However, as much as my husband loves pasta, too, he doesn’t feel the same way as I do.  And Desi doesn’t really like it at all.  Seriously, where did this kid come from??  No mac n’ cheese, no spaghetti…sometimes its really hard to come up with dinner ideas!  This dish was a winner because Desi loves asparagus, peas and bacon, and we even got him to eat a few noodles, too!

I used proscuitto because my grocery store didn’t have pancetta, and I didn’t feel like making an extra trip to Whole Foods.  I think I could have just used bacon, and it would have been just as delicious.   It also would have been really good vegetarian.

Fettucine with Asparagus, Peas and Pancetta
by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen

* 12 ounces fettuccine or penne
* 3 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped
* 1 1/4 pounds asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces
* 2 cups shelled fresh green peas, blanched 1 minute in boiling water, drained, or frozen peas (do not thaw)
* 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, white and pale green parts separated from dark green parts
* 2 garlic cloves, pressed
* 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
* 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
* 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided

Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.

Meanwhile, cook pancetta in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon drippings from skillet. Add asparagus to drippings in skillet; sauté 3 minutes. Add peas, white and pale green parts of green onions, and garlic; sauté until vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add vegetable mixture, 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid, dark green parts of green onions, 1/2 cup Parmesan, cream, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon peel, half of parsley, and half of basil to pasta. Toss, adding more cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls if needed. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle pancetta, remaining parsley, and basil over. Serve, passing additional Parmesan cheese.

Margaux Says…
This is a recipe that was given to me by Aunt Suzy years ago in one of my “dinner in a box” gifts. We love it so much that its become a staple in our household! Its very cheap, and I usually make it when its about time to go shopping because we almost always have the ingredients on hand. It also takes only about 30 minutes to make.

Aunt Suzy says . . .
I’m not sure where I got this recipe – Cook’s Illustrated perhaps – but it is a winner in many ways. Not only is in inexpensive and made from things you’re likely to have on hand, but the fact that you can throw this together in about 30 minutes is great! I usually make it when I’m at my wit’s end about what to cook on a weeknight. I almost always make this with whole wheat fusilli/pasta spirals and tuna from Italy packed in olive oil (available at Trader Joe’s). Enjoy!

Pasta and Garlic-Lemon Tuna Sauce with Capers and Parsley

Heat in skillet:
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I make this a heaping 1/2 tsp)
3 Tbsp capers
Over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes until sizzling but not browned.

Add:
1/2 cup dry white wine
Bring to simmer and simmer until there is no trace of alcohol-about a minute.

Add:
2 cans drained tuna
2 tsp salt (I only add 1 tsp salt)
Cook 1-2 minutes, stirring, until tuna is heated through.

Meanwhile, Cook:
1 lb. pasta pieces, like fusilli or rigatoni, al dente.
Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water.

Toss:
Tuna, pasta, pasta water PLUS
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 Tbsp butter

Serve immediately, with a crisp Italian white wine and a green salad.

Margaux’s version:

Suzy’s version: