Dinner @ 226 - Hacked Puttanesca aka "Prince Ali"

I have been stalling and waiting and procrastinating getting this post up. Why? Well, as I've mentioned before I got a new camera and I have taken some fairly decent photographs on said camera. Actually, I surprised myself with the decent-ness of the pictures. However, at the risk of sounding like my technologically challenged mother, I can't figure out how to get them on my computer. I'll spare you the details of my gajillion failed attempts. It's been comical and just a wee bit frustrating.

Lucky for you, I did finally wake up and realize, that this dish is far too awesome to keep from you even a moment longer. This is a meal where there need be no convincing the little people to finish their dinners. Instead, there are requests for seconds before my first plate is even cool enough to eat. It's the kind of meal where no matter what you're planning on preparing, someone is always hoping for this. It makes the whole family feel filled, but not in a glutenous-gratin & mashed potatoes sort of way. It is light, but wholesome. It cures depression. It stops the rain and beckons the sun. This dish, it's a miracle.

Everyone who has cooked probably has some version of this dish. Mine is totally bastardized and some Italians may banish me if they saw Puttanesca in the description. So, we'll leave that out. Reed calls it "Prince Ali" because I think it's the only thing she loves more than the Alladin Prince.

I'm going to give this recipe to you as a list of instructions because it's merely a guideline and a combination of ingredients that you can alter for your own big and little taste buds. We salivate over spices and slurp up anything salty and briny. If you're of the same style of eating, follow the guidelines closely. If you're taste buds are more subdued, lessen the red pepper flakes a bit and tone down the volume of olives and capers. Also, as a note, though I've made a bevy of changes to the recipe (and thus feel comfortable in calling it my own)the original idea came from Rachel Ray, of all places. That lady may be mind-numbing with her exclamations of EVOO and such, but she is a good starting point for those of you who are beginning on your culinary explorations. Simple ingredients. Simple Steps. Tasty food.

Prince Ali

2 T olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 t red pepper flakes
4 T capers, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
2 cans good tuna packed in olive oil
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes with juice, chopped (I prefer just squeezing them
through my fingers as I pour them into the pan, making smaller chunks of tomato)
a splash of decent white wine
1 box/bag of Penne Rigate pasta
Parmigiano Reggiano for topping the pasta

Bring a very large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta, stir and cook almost al dente. Reserve one cup of pasta water. Drain.

Meanwhile, warm the olive oil over medium heat in the largest pan you have. You're going to be adding your cooked pasta at the end, to mix it all together. So, you need plenty of room. I use this one. Add the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Saute over medium heat until everything is nice and soft. This is an important step because your building the base for this dish. You want to be patient and let the flavors really develop, but don't brown anything!

Now, add the capers, olives and tuna, with the olive oil from the cans. Break apart the tuna with your wooden spoon and let this all warm up together for about five minutes.

Add the can of tomatoes and juice, breaking the tomatoes apart as you add them. Stir, and simmer for five minutes. Add wine. Turn down heat and stir, and simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquids have reduced. Add more pasta water if it gets dry and sticks to the pan. In this simmer phase, you want a very subtle bubbling, but not an out and out boil.

Add the drained pasta to your sauce and turn and mix until the pasta is evenly coated in sauce. Let simmer on low for five minutes, letting the pasta really absorb the flavors and finish cooking.

Serve topped with grated Parmigiano, and along side a great big greed salad with lemon vinaigrette.

I hope you have as many empty plates as we do, but don't count on many leftovers.