Penne Pasta with Italian Tuna, Artichoke Hearts & Olives Recipe
Here’s a “shortcut” meal that takes as long as it takes to cook 3/4 pound of penne pasta. It’s quick, easy, and delicious, and if there are any leftovers, you’ll have a great lunch the next day. When I need to make something quick for my girls, this is one of the recipes I reach for especially since I usually have all the ingredients in the pantry.
The idea for this recipe originally came while my wife and I were on our honeymoon in Italy years ago. We visited my sister-in-laws friends who lived in Rome and invited us over for dinner. They made this dish with Italian jarred Italian tuna, fresh artichoke hearts and olives that they just brought back from Sicily while visiting family.
As simple as this dish was, it was one of the best meals my wife and I had on our entire honeymoon trip and that’s including some very nice restaurants. I think it had something to do with being in someone’s home, sharing a meal with new friends and being on an adventure.
The reason I call it a shortcut meal is because I used canned artichoke hearts instead of fresh and I’m sure this pasta dish would even be better with fresh artichoke hearts, but I needed to prepare this in a hurry. I also used a jar of solid tuna imported from Italy and a can of artichoke hearts imported from Spain. The artichoke hearts should be packed in water, not oil. Both these items were picked up at an Italian specialty store.
UPDATE 11/13/14 – I now like using frozen artichoke hearts that I pick up in our local supermarket or Trader Joe’s. I think they may be a little more flavorful.
There is really nothing to cook but the pasta. Oh yeah, I did sauté some garlic in the oil the tuna was packed in. The rest of the ingredients just need to be heated up while the pasta is cooking.
Pasta with Tuna, Artichoke Hearts and Kalamata Olives Recipe
3/4 pound penne pasta
2 cloves of garlic - finely chopped
1 10.5 oz jar of imported tuna packed in olive oil
1 14 oz. can of artichoke hearts packed in water or frozen, cut into quarters
10 or 12 Kalamata olives - pitted and cut in half or quarters
Salt & pepper, to taste
Hot pepper flakes, optional
Good quality extra virgin olive oil for finishing the dish
How To Prepare At Home
Get a big pot of water boiling for the pasta. Add some salt and throw in the penne pasta. Immediately give it a stir and cook until al dente. Be sure to save some a half or cup of the pasta water before draining.
I like to add some to the sauce pan while cooking the artichokes. It not only helps with the cooking, it also helps the sauce stick to the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, sauté the garlic in some of the oil the tuna is packed in. When the garlic gives off that incredible fragrance, add the artichoke hearts and olives. Let this cook for a couple of minutes to heat.
While the sauce is heating up, the artichoke hearts and tuna will break up into smaller pieces. No problem.
Here's where you may want to add some of the pasta water if you think the sauce is too thick. It helps thin out the sauce just a little so it would be easier to cover the penne.
Add the tuna with the rest of the tuna oil and use a fork to break up the large chunks. Cook for a few minutes until the tuna is warmed through.
Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.
Once the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the sauce. I also like to drizzle a little good quality extra virgin olive oil for another layer of flavor.
Stir to combine well, plate it and serve. If you to give it a little pop, serve it with some hot pepper flakes to spice it up.
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