Lenten Season Food Suggestion: Tinakits’ Tuna Aioli Pasta

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My friend, what’s the tradition you follow during Lent?  Lent is a Christian/Catholic six-week solemn observance of the Passion of Jesus Christ.  This starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday.  It is a tradition for Christians/Catholics to prepare for this Holy season through prayers, penance, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial.  WHEW!  Heavy content, isn’t it?  Filipinos have rich traditions followed during this season because, in my opinion at least, it is the most solemn season of all.  Reason that makes Lent my favorite holiday of all.  Yup!  I love the Holy Week more than Christmas or New Year.

One of the many penitence that Filipino Catholics observe is to avoid eating four-legged animal’s and any fowl’s meat every Friday and the entire Holy Week (this starts on Palm Sunday and ends on Black Saturday) thus, resorting to serve fish, seafoods and vegetables only.  Unfortunately, not everybody eats these yummy treats from the land and sea so it is a challenge for the carnivorous people to think of what to serve during Lenten season.

I have so many suggestions for you but I choose to share this pasta dish of mine because this is the most popular and received the most number of positive comments of all whenever I cook and serve this.  Not only it is yummy, but also healthy – a sure winner for those body-conscious individual and for those who are trying to be fit this summer.  So here is my recipe for what I called TINAKITS’ TUNA AIOLI PASTA!

Tidbits: “Aioli” is of French origin. “Ai” means garlic & “oli” means oil.

INGREDIENTS:

Clockwise from top left: garlic, black olives, olive oil, butter, parsley, white wine, anchovies, tuna

1/4 kilo (250 g.) Uncooked Pasta

2 cans of Tuna Flakes in oil

1/2 a can of Anchovies in Olive Oil

2 tsp. of Anchovies Oil (included in the can of Achovies you will buy)

2 tbsp. Olive Oil

1 tbsp. Butter (salted or unsalted, whichever you prefer)

4 big cloves of Garlic, minced

12-14 pcs. of Black Olives, cut into small rings

1/4 cup of White Wine

Chopped Parsley Leaves

White Pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.     Cook pasta as directed on the package.  Set aside.

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TIPS: Use spaghetti since this is cheaper.  Do not overcook the pasta but instead, undercook it, which means you cook it for 9-10 minutes only because we will still cook the pasta again later.

2.  In a pan over heat, put 2 tablespoosn olive oil & 1 tablespoon salted butter.

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Putting olive oil before the butter ensures that your butter will not burn and will save the taste of it.

3.   Sauté 4 cloves of minced garlic, making sure it will not burn.

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4.   Add 1/2 can of Anchovies (approximately 6-8 pieces) and 2 teaspoons of its oil.  Stir until the anchovies breaks.

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Anchovies?  Yes!  I know you hate this very salty fish in your pizza but this is the main flavoring of our pasta dish.  It is small but very flavorful.   Once you sauté this, it will melt or break into small pieces which you will never see after the dish cooks and leaves the taste of the natural saltiness of the sea that is why no salt was indicated on the list of ingredients.

My opinion:   NO TO MSG!!!  That’s Monosodium Glutamate or “vetsin“.  I do not believe in using MSG!  Avoid it!  Any good and health-conscious cook will never use it.  Using MSG is a cheaters way of making any dish flavorful and will only bring danger to your health.

5.   Add 2 cans of Tuna Flakes in oil.  Stir and cook for 2 minutes.

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Since I want a kick of chili to the dish, I used 1 can of plain tuna and 1 can spicy tuna flakes, all soaked in oil.  To make it more spicy, use 2 cans of spicy tuna flakes in oil instead.  If you hate spicy food, use plain tuna flakes in oil instead.

I have olive oil, butter, anchovies oil and tuna flakes in oil – isn’t it the recipe is too oily?  No, because it will be absorbed by the pasta later.  But if you still think it’s too oily, remove the oil of one can of tuna you will use.

6.  Add 1/4 cup of White Wine, do not stir.  Simmer for 2 minutes or until its alcohol evaporates.

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Don’t worry, you will not get drunk in adding any alcoholic drinks to the food you’ll cook (unless you drink it, of course).  Try adding wine to your recipe and you will notice a different taste to it.  Since we are using fish in our dish, white wine should be used and any white wine will do.  What white wine to use?  Simply choose the one that taste well for you because you will also love the taste of it once we add it to our pasta.  But please don’t buy wine just for this dish.  Use the opened bottle of wine left on your fridge that you consumed the last party you hosted.  The wine I used is the one we consumed and left last New Year’s dinner.

How will we know if the wine’s alcohol already “evaporates”?  After 2 minutes, grab a teaspoon and taste the dish.  If you don’t taste any kick of alcohol, it means the wine already cooked and all alcohol disappeared, leaving only the taste of the wine.

7.   Stir in black olives & parsley.  Seasoned with ground white pepper to taste.

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The black olives and parsley adds French flavor, look and feel to our dish plus it adds color to it.  In chopping parsley, make sure that you use a sharp knife so that the parsley will not create any juice while chopping it.  The easiest way to chop is to snip the parsley leaves with your kitchen scissors.

I used white ground pepper so that it will blend well with the color of our recipe. But if you don’t have this, you can use ground black pepper.  Anyway, the taste is the same as the white one.

8.   Add the cooked pasta and stir until it fully absorbed the sauce.

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9.  Put pasta in a plate.  Add chopped fresh parsley leaves before serving.  Serve while hot.

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Easy right?  Anybody can do this even if you are not a good cook!

As a rule, any pasta dish with fish or seafood does not require any cheese on it to save the natural flavor of  the ingredients because cheese has its own saltiness to it which might overwhelm the real flavor of our recipe.  But if you are a person who loves cheese, sprinkle Parmesan cheese once you serve the pasta.

I cooked it last night and my mother loves it!  Actually, she misses me cooking for I am very busy with my main work and with the constant roaming I’m doing recently.  So cooking became a way for me to bond with her.  I highly recommend this especially if you want your kids or anybody to appreciate eating fish, or serve this to that special someone who will celebrate their birthday this Holy Week while sticking with your diet and with your vow of not eating meat.  It is very easy to cook, you can prepare this as your packed lunch in school or in the office.

So check your pantry and fridge, go to the grocery, prepare all the ingredients and cook this for you to appreciate.

Bon appetit!

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My friend, I am more than happy to answer your questions or read your comments about my simple creation.  Happy eating!!!

-Tinakits-

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