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Everything tastes better with tuna

Posted by Sheryl Julian  May 11, 2009 05:26 PM

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Food page contributor Ike DeLorenzo made this penne for dinner last night. He emailed to say that it takes only 30 minutes in one pan, "and has a rich, satisfying, almost slow-cooked taste. The key is to use excellent quality pancetta, like the housemade one from Formaggio Kitchen." He began with penne made from farro, which, he says, "lends the dish an especially balanced and satisfying taste."

Wine recommendation: a lighter red (Chianti, pinot noir) or a crisp dry white (Picpoul-de-Pinet, sauvignon blanc).

Farro penne with tuna and pancetta
Serves 2

Salt, to taste
1/4-inch slice top quality pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 can (14 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3/4 pound farro penne rigate
1 can (6 ounces) tuna in olive oil
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup grated romano cheese

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil to cook the pasta.
2. Meanwhile, in a flameproof casserole large enough to hold the finished dish, turn the heat to medium-low. Add the pancetta with a splash of olive oil. Cook the pancetta for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it begins to turn slightly golden. About 1 minute before the pancetta is done, add the garlic. Don't burn the garlic.
3. Add the tomatoes. Turn the heat to medium-high. Add the red pepper, and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes have cooked down a bit. Add a few splashes of olive oil.
4. Drop the pasta into the water. Cook according to package directions (usually about 7 minutes). Be alert with farro pasta. The difference between perfectly cooked "al dente" farro and overcooked mush is less than a minute. Drain farro pasta 2 minutes early; it will continue to cook in the pan.
5. Use a fork to ease the tuna out of the can into the tomato mixture, so you flake rather than mash it as it falls out of the can. Continue cooking for 5 minutes.
6. Drain the pasta into a colander. Add the pasta and parsley to the tomato sauce. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring gently, for 5 minutes.
7. Turn off the heat and sprinkle with romano cheese. Stir slowly to prevent the cheese from clumping as it melts. Ike DeLorenzo

About Dishing

What's cooking in the world of food.


Sheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.

Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.

Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.

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