You always have some very good olive-oil-packed tuna and good canned tomatoes or tomato puree in the cupboard, right? (And if not, why not?) This is for when you thought you were going out, but decided to stay in, or for when your best friend came over to help you with your closets and she stays for dinner.
From "Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way" by Oretta Zanini De Vita and Maureen B. Fant (W. W. Norton, 2013), p. 58. —Maureen Fant
4 to 6
For the condimento
very fruity extra-virgin olive oil
medium white or yellow onion, finely chopped
clove garlic, crushed
salt-packed anchovies, cleaned and rinsed, or 4 oil-packed fillets, drained, blotted dry, and coarsely chopped
canned Italian peeled tomatoes with their liquid
7-ounce cans best-quality Italian oil-packed tuna, drained
Put the oil, chopped onion, and garlic in a skillet and sauté gently over medium-low heat until the onion is transparent, about 5 minutes. Discard the garlic when it begins to color. Add the chopped anchovies and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Use a fork to help the anchovies disintegrate.
Add the tomatoes and chili. Lower the heat and simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes, or until it is visibly reduced and the oil comes to the surface. Remove the pan from the heat. Discard the chili.
Put 5 quarts of water on to boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat. When the water boils, add 3 tablespoons kosher salt, then add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.
Warm a serving bowl or platter in a low oven. If using the oven is not practical, warm the bowl just before use with hot water -- or even a ladleful of the pasta cooking water.
While the pasta is cooking, finish the sauce. Break the tuna up with a fork and add it to the pan. Taste for salt and add sparingly if needed (between the anchovies and the tuna, you may not need any at all). Simmer the sauce over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes.
Drain the pasta and transfer to a heated serving bowl. Add the sauce and a swirl of oil and mix well. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.
Coauthor of "Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way," "Dictionary of Italian Cuisine," and "Women’s Life in Greece and Rome." Author of "Eat like the Romans: the Visitor's Food Guide," Trattorias of Rome, Florence, and Venice," and Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World "Rome." Translator of "Encyclopedia of Pasta" and "Popes, Peasants, and Shepherds: Recipes and Lore from Rome and Lazio." I came to Rome because of my studies of classics and archaeology and stayed for other reasons.