There are times when the cupboard appears to be bare, when you have no idea what you could possibly cook without a trip to the grocery store or some divine inspiration.
That’s when pasta is usually the answer.
A simple box of pasta needs little more than some butter or oil and whatever else is on the cupboard shelf (no matter how lowly it may seem) to be turned into a satisfying, simple meal.
If you don’t believe it, try out this recipe for Linguine with Tuna and Anchovies to see how easily a few cans of pantry staples can be transformed into dinner.
LINGUINE WITH TUNA AND ANCHOVIES
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
1 (2-oz.) can oil-packed anchovies, drained
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 (5-oz.) cans oil packed tuna, drained and flaked
½ cup dry white wine
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
Kosher salt, as needed
Red pepper flakes, as needed
1 lb. dried linguine
Heat the oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the anchovies and cook, stirring and mashing them, until they melt. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the aroma is released, about 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley and cook another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tuna and wine and cook until the wine has nearly cooked away. Add the tomato paste, stirring well, and cook until it has a sweet aroma and a rich rusty color, another 2 minutes.
Add 6 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, covered, until the sauce is reduced, thick and rich, 45 to 60 minutes. Taste the sauce and season, as necessary, with salt and some red pepper flakes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the linguine and stir to submerge the pasta and separate the strands. Cook, uncovered, until the pasta is just tender (al dente), 8 to 10 minutes (check the cooking time for your pasta). Reserve a few ladlefuls of the pasta cooking water for finishing the sauce (you will need about ½ cup).
Drain the pasta in a colander. Shake well to remove any water clinging to the pasta. Pour the drained pasta into a large heated serving bowl. Add the tuna and anchovy sauce and ¼ cup of the reserved pasta cooking water and toss together until the pasta is evenly coated (adding more water if needed).
Drizzle with oil and serve at once.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
— Pasta: Classic and Contemporary Pasta, Risotto, Crespelle and Polenta Recipes, The Culinary Institute of America, Gianni Scappin, Alberto Vanoli, Francesco Tonelli