If you’re lucky — and, more importantly, if you’re open to it, you never stop learning. I mean every day. There’s always something new to see, hear, think about, learn; isn’t here?
Some lessons or new skills are BIG. They can even be exasperating, testing one’s resilience and determination. I’m thinking back to the early days of starting a blog and learning programming, computer-speak, photography, etc. That required patience (tons), one’s full attention and the use of a lot of brain cells over a long period of time.
I never stop learning about food too. My tastes, techniques and views are continually evolving although these lessons are more nuanced and somewhat like fine-tuning.
As I prepared this dish, I started to think about how my food tastes and pantry stocking have changed. These days, I focus on purity of product and balance in the meals I prepare. There’s hardly a can in my pantry … and I really do shop the perimeter of the supermarket.
Once in a while, I must admit a craving for some kind of comfort (nostalgic) food, like a red-sauced pasta dish, but I tend to lighten it up with added vegetables, update it with something new like this aioli, and portion-control it so that adding a little something excessive (that would be the aioli) is perfectly A-ok.
Of course, a good ragu begins with a medley of minced carrot, celery, onion and garlic. I made this sauce a little chunky just to get a larger quantity in.
I thought about adding capers and olives, but that would make it too much like a putanesca.
You wouldn’t use fresh tuna for this dish because it would be shame to overcook it, but a good quality tuna packed in olive oil, like this one which is wild caught and hand packed, is perfect.
I started the sauce by using the oil from the tuna to saute the vegetables before adding the strained tomatoes and added dry seasonings, a dash of sugar and some red chili. The whole tuna fillets were flaked and cooked down with the sauce. I squeezed a little lemon juice into the sauce to brighten it up before mixing in the spaghetti.
Speaking of spaghetti, I’ve been buying fancy and imported pasta for the last few years and one day recently I tried the Ronzoni Garden Delight variety which includes a 1/2 serving of vegetables per 2 oz. portion and 8 grams of protein. It holds up well at 8 minutes cooking and tastes good!
Pasta is best served after it’s been coated in the sauce pan.
I’ve learned the importance of balance. It’s not something I used to think about, but now I think about it all the time. For every ingredient that goes in the pot, I think of its counterpoint.
[I also learned to wipe the plate before taking photos, though I guess I need another lesson.]
I made the aioli by pureeing parsley and lemon zest with a little olive oil and then blending it with a small amount of mayo (the kind made with olive oil) and a dash of lemon juice.
This aioli provided a fatty balance to the acidic tomatoes and when mixed into the dish made the sauce creamy.
Another lesson of course is repurposing leftovers.