Monday, March 14, 2011

Creamy Tomato Tuna Penne Pasta and the Great "Tuna Melt Defense"

This fast and easy creamy tomato tuna penne pasta recipe is inspired by one of my favorite lunches of all time; the tuna melt with cup of creamy tomato soup combo. Not only is this diner classic a great tasting meal, it's also the basis for what I call, "The Tuna Melt Defense."

Whenever I hear chefs (usually young American ones, trained in Italy) say that you may NEVER add cheese to a pasta that contains fish or seafood, I'm forced to use this argument to defend my firm belief that sometimes it's okay to do just that.

Who can argue against the deliciousness of the perfectly made tuna melt? I don't know anyone that loves both cheese and tuna separately that doesn't enjoy this classic grilled sandwich. Throw in a cup of tomato soup and you're talking about one of the best lunches ever.

So, if this combination is culinarily acceptable at Joe's Diner (by the way, this is the same diner those chefs I was talking about in the 2nd paragraph go to eat tuna melts after a late night out), then why in the world can’t we enjoy the same basic flavor profile in a bowl of pasta? I rest my case. Enjoy!

1 (6.7-oz) jar of tuna packed in olive oil
pinch of dried oregano (if not already in the oil)
3 cloves garlic
pinch of pepper flakes
1 teaspoon mashed anchovy filets or paste
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
3 cups high-quality cream of tomato soup
1/2 cup water
14.5-oz package dry penne pasta
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
2/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, more as needed

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