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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday Beefcake: Pasta al Tonno all'Ascolana

From Lida and the city of Ascoli

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 plump garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
½ cup green brine-cured Italian olives, such as Ascolane, Castelvetrano, or Cerignola, pitted and chopped
3 anchovy fillets, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
½ teaspoon peperoncino flakes, or to taste
3 cups (one 28-ounce can) canned Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
A 6-ounce can tuna in olive oil, preferably imported from Italy
1 pound ziti
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Pour the olive oil into the big skillet, and set it over medium heat. Scatter in the garlic, and cook, stirring, for a minute or so, until sizzling, then add the olives, anchovies, and peperoncino. Cook and stir for a couple of minutes, as the anchovies melt in the oil. Pour in the tomatoes, rinse the can with 1 cup of water, and pour that in. Bring the sauce to a bubbling simmer, and let it perk, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.

Drain the tuna, and break it up into bite-sized chunks. When the sauce has been bubbling a while, stir in the tuna without breaking up the pieces. Simmer the sauce another 5 minutes, or until it is nicely thickened and full of flavor.

Start cooking the ziti (or other pasta) about the same time you add the tuna to the skillet. When the pasta is al dente, lift it from the pot with a spider, let it drain briefly, and drop it into the barely simmering sauce. Toss together until the pasta is evenly coated with sauce, sprinkle the chopped parsley (or other herb) over all, and briefly toss again. Serve immediately in warm bowls.

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