This is a cross between pasta primavera (“spring” pasta, made with lots of fresh vegetables) and pasta puttanesca (“whore’s” pasta, made with tuna and black olives-so called not because the dish is inherently whorish, but because it was allegedly a quick, easy meal that Italian prostitutes could whip up between clients).
I dubbed this “pasta primaria” because, due to my minimal knowledge of Italian food, any attempt at a pasta dish had to be really easy. Primary, easy, primaria… my faux-talian makes sense, right? Luckily, the building blocks of Italian food are simple enough to understand- enough olive oil, garlic, basil, and cheese, and anything will taste good. Since I’ve read a lot of pasta recipes featuring cherry tomatoes lately, it seemed like a good idea to use them. The cherry tomatoes are added last, along with a splash of lemon juice. They’re barely cooked at all, so the overall effect is very light and fresh, but still filling.
- 1 small onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 1/2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp dried basil (or fresh, sliced)
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 Roma or regular tomatoes, in 1/2” cubes
- 1 can of tuna, in oil
- 8 black olives, diced
- 3/4 to 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Parmesan, to garnish
- Cooked whole-wheat spaghetti noodles (about 1/3 lb will be enough for all the sauce)
- Thinly slice the onion and garlic cloves. Saute in olive oil with sea salt, black pepper, basil, and cayenne for a few minutes, until onions begin to turn translucent.
- Add the large tomatoes. Saute for a minute, then cover pan and let steam for about five minutes.
- Add tuna, with oil, and olives. Stir together, recover, and leave for five minutes longer. The tomatoes should be cooking down into a very chunky sauce. You can mash them with your spoon to get more of a sauce-y quality if you’re unsatisfied. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
- Gently stir in your cherry tomatoes until incorporated. They should really only get a minute or two of heat. Squeeze your lemon juice over, adding more to taste.
- Serve immediately over spaghetti and garnish with Parmesan, as well as salt and pepper to taste.
Mmm! I just found this amazing 1970s article by James Beard on how to make homemade pasta and all the simple, classic pasta sauces— no pasta machine necessary. So, that’s my next hurdle, and I’ll write about it soon; my goal for the summer is to get a lot better at Italian cooking. I still can’t make a decent tomato sauce from scratch… it’s sad. But that’s all about to change! Stay posted…