Penne col Sugo di Tonno e Peperoni

Penne with Tuna and Roasted Peppers

The tuna and cream sauce for fettuccine taught me that canned tuna makes a much finer sauce when you do not cook it. Here I follow the same principle in a sauce whose emphatic flavor forms a more congenial alliance with factory-made pasta than with homemade pasta.

Roasted peppers are insaporiti—made savory—over a lightly sautéed flavor base of olive oil and garlic. Parsley and capers are added, the heat turned off, and the crumbled tuna mixed in to complete the sauce.

Ingredients

  • 2 large or 3 medium sweet red or yellow bell peppers
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic chopped coarse
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • Salt
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • 6 to 7 ounces canned Italian-style tuna packed in olive oil
  • 1 pound penne (quill-shaped pasta) or other short, tubular pasta
  • 2 tablespoons fine, dry, unflavored bread crumbs, lightly toasted in the oven

Method

  1. Turn on the oven to 500°.
  2. Wash the peppers, put them on a baking sheet, and place it in the uppermost level of the oven. (Peppers may also be roasted on a griddle or over charcoal, but for this recipe I prefer the oven because it makes them a little more tender.)
  3. Turn the peppers from time to time until their skin is charred on all sides. Remove them from the oven and put them into a plastic bag. Tie the bag tightly and allow the peppers to cool.
  4. When the peppers are cool, remove the skin, which will pull off easily. Cut the peppers open, remove the core and seeds, and cut the flesh lengthwise into strips ½ inch wide.
  5. Put 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and the chopped garlic in a small saucepan, turning on the heat to medium. Cook the garlic for a minute or two, stirring from time to time, until it becomes colored a light gold. Add the strips of red pepper, raise the heat, and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes to let the peppers absorb flavor from the olive oil and garlic.
  6. Add the parsley and capers, stir 2 or 3 times, then turn off the heat. Add salt, a liberal grinding of pepper, and the tuna. Break up the tuna into shreds with a fork or wooden spoon and mix thoroughly.
  7. Cook the pasta in abundant boiling salted water. When it is barely tender but still firm to the bite, drain, transfer immediately to a serving bowl, and add the sauce from the saucepan. Toss well, adding the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the toasted bread crumbs. Serve at once.

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