Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Pasta in Tonnato Sauce

The fist time I learned of tonnato sauce was during the fourth season of The Mind of a Chef on PBS. Chef Gabrielle Hamilton talked about the sauce. It consists of canned tuna, anchovies, lemon, olive oil and capers. Traditionally it is served over sliced cold veal. In July 2015, I was told by my doctor to increase my consumption of seafood. I was looking for interesting ways to do that. 

The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Italian cookbook includes a recipe for Spaghettini Tonnato, Spaghettini in Tonnato sauce. I wanted to use wheat free pasta and I found quinoa spaghetti. On October 16, 2015, I made quinoa spaghetti in tonnato sauce. I garnished with parmesan cheese, parsley and black pepper. I loved the flavor, but the quinoa pasta broke apart too easily for my taste.

My mom bought me a Veggetti device. It turns vegetables into two sizes of flat noodle/pasta shapes. In December 2015, I had the harebrained idea to use zucchini or cucumber noodles instead of any form of grain based pasta. I finally decided on cucumber. Why? In a traditional American tuna salad you have tuna, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, pickle relish, and sometimes capers. Pickles and pickle relish are made from cucumbers, so I thought that would make them perfect with tonnato sauce. This was the best version of the dish so far. The raw cucumber noodles did not break apart easily at all.

The tonnato sauce has a fishy flavor from the tuna and anchovies. The lemon gives it a bite that cuts some of the fattiness of the tuna. The capers bring brininess to the sauce. The olive oil has its own flavor although most used in this as a emulsifier. The version with the cucumber noodles will positively be used again in my menus. 

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