Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuna, bacon and spinach pasta

The feeling of relief I experienced after using 9 veggies in a single soup-and-salad combo must have moved Steve to go shopping for more, because when I got home late Monday night, guess what new things I found in the fridge?

4 bell peppers (red, orange, yellow, green)
4 vine tomatoes
1 package baby spinach leaves

Which wouldn’t have been such a big deal, except that we already had most of a bag of spinach, an ear of corn, a bunch of scallions and a cucumber that have been in the fridge since before our camping trip.

I was most antsy to get rid of the spinach, since there have been so many instances where we opened the bag of spinach purchased the day before, found that the date on which we were opening it was also the expiration date, and...pew. Or we were able to enjoy it for a day or two after opening it before the cycle of life took another turn. To prevent a recurrence from happening this week, I made the following recipe Tuesday night, based on one from the February 2004 issue of Food and Wine:

Midnight Pasta with Tuna, Pancetta and SpinachWe ate around 8:00, not midnight. The recipe name and ingredients listed in the magazine were based on a theme of arriving late on Friday night for a nice weekend at your vacation home in the Adirondacks (because we all have one of those) and getting by on pantry and freezer staples. I generally find this a handy recipe for when I don't have anything fresh to use up; you just thaw half a package of frozen spinach, dice the pancetta (which can also be frozen) and find the other ingredients in the cupboard. My fresh spinach adaptation involved using about 7-8 ounces of fresh baby spinach, chopped in flat dice and given a few minutes longer to cook than the microwave-thawed spinach would have needed.

8 oz. pasta (linguine is my preference, but I used wheat rotini tonight)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 oz. pancetta, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, or to taste
6 oz. can of chunk light tuna, drained
7-8 oz. fresh baby spinach, chopped small
1/3 cup dry white wine

Boil enough water to cook the pasta and add the pasta with a little salt. Drain and stir in a tbsp of olive oil if desired.

In a separate saucepan, heat the 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook over medium heat until translucent (don't let it get crispy).

Add the garlic and crushed red papper and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add the tuna and cook another 3-4 minutes.

Add spinach, stir well and cook for 4-5 minutes or until it has wilted.

Add white wine, bring to a boil and cook on high heat for about 3 minutes or until liquid has reduced by more than half.

Spoon the pasta onto individual plates and top with the sauce. If there is extra liquid, spoon some of it directly onto the pasta.

Wagner, Steven. "Recipes for a perfect country weekend." Food and Wine, February 2004, p. 105.

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