February 28, 2010

Lenten Meal Idea

A few years ago my husband and I gave up eating meat on Fridays.  It is a small sacrifice really, but it does have spiritual meaning to us.  What it means on a practical level is that when Lent comes around I have a large stockpile of meatless dinner ideas to pull from.  The one I'm about to share here happens to be one of our favorites.  As I was writing this post I tried to find the original recipe that inspired this dish.  At first I thought that it was a Donna Hay recipe, but no.  Then I thought maybe I had seen it prepared by Giada, no again.  Finally I checked Everyday Food, but again, no luck.  I'm thinking that I just sort of put it together based off a variety of dishes instead of just one recipe.  I don't have any fancy name for it either, we just call it what it is, tuna pasta. 

I know for some the combination of tuna and pasta may seem a bit strange, but if you can get over the initial weirdness factor you'll see that this recipe really is a great one to have.  It's very filling, healthy and it's an easy pantry meal (well, pantry + freezer).  I always keep the supplies for this dish on hand.  Not only is it a great meal for Fridays, but sometimes I make this when we've had a long busy day or as an easy weekend lunch.  Here's the recipe:

Tuna pasta with peas (serves 2)
4 oz pasta cooked and drained (I like farfalle for this recipe)
one 6 oz can of tuna packed in olive oil, drained
1/2 cup frozen peas
zest of half a lemon, plus the juice of the lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Just a few notes here as there really isn't much cooking involved, I cook the peas with the pasta during the last minute of cooking or so.  After I've boiled the pasta and peas I drain them, immediately return them to the pan and add the rest of the ingredients.  I stir the ingredients just to combine them and warm the tuna.  I also break-up the tuna just a bit but not too much; I use albacore tuna and I like the pieces to stay somewhat large rather than shredded like in tuna salad.  And then it's ready to serve.

During Lent I do try to keep things simple at mealtime, which I find hard to do sometimes I confess.  But in order to simplify this recipe I usually substitute the tuna packed in oil with tuna packed in water.  It is much less luxurious that way and also not as flavorful, but it is still satisfying.  Also, if you can't find tuna packed in oil you'll have to make that substitution anyway.  In that case and if you are so inclined, you can always add a nice extra virgin olive oil to the finished dish so that it is not too dry.  Also, you'll see that the recipe above serves only two but the ingredients are easily adjusted for larger servings.

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