So I got yelled at today and accused of being ‘extravagant’ for insisting on buying a € 4 bunch of asparagus and then not use them. I tend to do this from time to time because I am an inherently lazy person. When I am at the grocery store I quickly whizz through all the things I can potentially cook in my head, buy the ingredients so I don’t have to make multiple trips, promise myself and the boyfriend I will do the proposed cooking, and then conveniently forget to do it once we get home. More often than not seeing the ingredients just sitting there on the bench top or in the pantry reminds me of my cooking obligation on a daily basis, but I will keep putting it off until the bananas have gone brown, the avocados have gone all squishy, the bread has turned an alarming shade of green and the cream has gone past its use-by date. These same ingredients will then be destined for the bin and R. feels cheated out of a potentially good meal … hence the grumblings I received today.
Three days ago I could have sworn I was in the mood for a simple chicken and asparagus risotto for dinner and I had sent R. to the shops to pick up ingredients. He had a list and he had strict instructions along the lines of … “whatever you do, don’t forget the asparagus!” So my hunter-gatherer boyfriend did just that and returned home triumphantly with the asparagus, but forgot the chicken. Doh! Today though he could see the neglected asparagus were going to continue being neglected until they go down the same path as all other neglected ingredients that pass through my hands, and he felt he had to do something about it. Personally, I think this has more to do with the fact that it was he who went out in search of those bright green spears, and it was thru his hunter-gatherer efforts that the bunch of asparagus is now sitting idly in my kitchen, and much less to do with the price he paid for them. He is always of the opinion that any money spent on anything leafy or green is a terrible misappropriation of household funds anyway.
So after I received the mornings grumblings I decided to act upon it and make it all better for him. I was overdue in making something new for the Cooks Club Challenge this month anyway and the challenge was to make Creamy Tuna Pasta. In the original recipe I was to use tuna, spring peas (such a lovely time of year to start incorporating fresh baby peas into food), sun dried tomatoes and caper berries. Cooks are allowed to tweak the recipe to make it their own, and then a photo is submitted on the forum board and the Tasteadmin will decide who wins on a later date. So tweak the recipe I did and I came up with this gorgeous new pasta dish that even the boyfriend wanted to eat. Not just eat it, but he asked for seconds. Totally unheard of!
Gather these few ingredients (I tooootallly forgot the peas in this shot) … and lets get down to the business of creating this fabulous lunch. The pasta goes into a pot of rapidly boiling salted water. The asparagus spears are chopped to roughly the same size as the peas, and they are boiled along with the peas for a few minutes to get them tender. Since we chopped the asparagus they won’t take long to cook. After about three minutes turn off the fire, drain the liquid and then shock the peas and asparagus into very cold water. Set them aside for later.
I placed about two shallots and two cloves of garlic in a mincer and blitz them to a very fine chop. The sundried tomatoes I simply cut into strips lengthwise, but really it doesn’t matter how you chop them. If you like them chunky then simply halve them. Some shops sell these tomatoes dry in a box but I like the ones that come suspended in yummy olive oil. The oil can make a very nice dressing for salads or for dipping bread in.
Drain the water from both the crab and tuna cans and we are ready to assemble this dish. It is best to have everything ready to go because once the pasta is done and in the pan you will need to work quickly to avoid overcooking the noodles.
Sautée the shallots and garlic in a pan with some olive oil and butter. Once they are fragrant and just about to turn colour add in the cream. Turn the heat up and reduce it until the cream bubbles like mad and thickens. Do not walk away from the pan. When the cream is nice and thick, toss in the pasta with a little bit of the cooking liquid. Flick the pan to toss everything around for a nice even coat.
Now throw in the peas, the asparagus, tomatoes, tuna and crab. Warm everything through, taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Plate up and serve immediately.
Tagliatelle with Tuna, Crab, Spring Peas and Asparagus.
1 box whole egg tagliatelle
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup fresh baby peas
¼ cup chopped asparagus spears
6 pieces sun-dried tomatoes in oil
1 can tuna chunks in water
1 can crab meat
½ cup cream
salt & pepper
So that was lunch, sorted in about thirty minutes. There were smiles all around when I stepped out of the kitchen … me, because I have discovered a nice new dish and it looked great; him, because he hadn’t had breakfast and he was starving. So hungry was he that he asked for seconds and eventually polished off everything in the pan.
What I liked about this recipe is that it is so simple, anyone can do it. If you can read instructions at the back of a pasta packet, and you can manage to boil pasta without overcooking them, then this dish will be a cinch. The only sauce you will need is a tub of thin cream. The beauty of cream is if you cook it long enough it will thicken and become velvety. It will lovingly cling to every strand of pasta and provide a richness without the heaviness of using egg yolks or flour.
Managed to snap the pictures for this dish and submit it to the Cooks Club challenge AND I got myself out of trouble by utilizing my “frivolously” purchased asparagus. No sign of a risotto yet because we still haven’t gone back to the store to pick up chicken. Anyway, if you enjoyed this recipe then perhaps you’d like to check out my other pasta recipes: Pasta Puttanesca, Creamy Smoked Salmon on Fettuccini and Garlic Butter Shrimp on Speghetti.
~ Enjoy! ~