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Tuna & Olive Pasta, And Rachael Ray

Give me a chance to explain.

I know Ms Ray is generally vilified, what with her “EVOO” and “delish”, along with her annoying daytime television show. Many people have the right to be irritated by her. I am. Sometimes. But I have to admit, I used to watch the original ’30 Minute Meals’, and I own several of her cookbooks.

No, I usually cannot make those ’30 Minute Meals’ in 30 minutes, but I think Ms Ray was on to something. She makes real food. I mean, have you really looked at her recipes? Have you actually tried any of them? The ones I’ve tried have all been rather tasty. And every one of them calls for real food. Rarely they will ask for a a bit of tortilla chips, or a pre-packaged cornbread mix (Ray doesn’t bake), and the occasional pesto. She does choose ingredients for convenience and speed, such as chicken cutlets or frozen spinach, but it’s still good food…if you purchase the ones right for you. If you want to buy fresh, organic spinach and cook it down for a recipe, go for it. It’s a recipe, not a mathematical equation.

That’s what recipes are for…at least to me. They give you a guideline to follow, making adjustments or substitutions as you see fit. A recipe is a technique. Mix and match (or omit) ingredients depending on your mood or your market. Eat good food, and have fun.

The following isn’t a recipe by Rachael Ray, but it was inspired by her ‘Tuna Pasta Puttanesca’ in Just In Time.

Looks tasty to me

Looks tasty to me

Spicy Tuna & Olive Pasta

  • 1/2 lb spaghetti, cooked
  • 2 cans tuna in water, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 c chopped mixed olives (I used a spicy mix from the olive bar at the market)
  • 14 oz. can diced tomatoes (I used a pint I had in the cupboard)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • scant 1/4 c vermouth

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and pepper flakes, and cook until garlic is fragrant. Add tuna and olives. Cook for about a minute, then stir in the vermouth. Cook down the vermouth about 5 min, then add tomatoes. Simmer on low for 5-10 minutes. Add pasta to skillet and toss to combine. (I simmered it for a few minutes to allow the pasta to absorb some of the sauce.)

Spicy Peanut Noodles

There’s no neat story about this one. This is just a comfort-food go-to for me. It’s so easy, and almost all the ingredients are in the pantry. Go ahead, give it a try. It’s even good cold the next day…if it lasts that long. Just don’t be alarmed at the chunky sauce. The peanut butter in the sauce solidifies as it cools. Still just as tasty!

Spicy Peanut Noodles

  • 1/2 lb spaghetti, cooked just beyond al dente
  • 1/2 c peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
  • 3 Tbsp unseasoned rice (or cider) vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce (I use shoyu)
  • scant 1/4 c water
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • lime wedges, for serving

In a small sauce pan, combine peanut butter, vinegar, honey, soy sauce, water, sriracha and garlic. Heat until peanut butter is melted and all ingredients are combined.

In a medium bowl, toss noodles with scallions. Pour dressing over and toss to combine.

Squeeze lime slices over servings.

Notes: I added about 1/2 cup shredded chicken. Please do try the lime wedges. It adds a great brightness to the dish. Another great addition would be ginger, about a 1″ piece, grated. Add to sauce.