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Friday, April 5, 2013

Cazuelas de Atun y Farfalle from Grace Parisi in Food and Wine Magazine



         What’s in a name?  Plenty.  Today’s dish is an homage to Spain which may not need much homage as it has firmly planted itself on the New York restaurant scene.  I count no fewer than 42 tapas restaurants in Manhattan alone on http://spanishtapasnyc.com/. But if you want something really Spanish, I suggest you head there. Because this dish has its roots firmly planted in the US of A.  It was a mainstay in many a household when I was growing up.  It was prized for its simplicity and the speed with which it could appear on the dinner table. So if Spanish isn’t your strong suit, here’s the translation: Tuna Noodle Casserole.  But would you have stopped to read a post about Tuna Noodle Casserole?  I didn’t think so. 
         
Grace shops her
own home pantry
This recipe is from Food and Wine’s Grace Parisi.  Sometimes I wonder what Chewing the Far would do without Grace Parisi.  Here she’s taken something so basic and put a delightful Spanish spin on its taste. The result is a dish whose red Piquillo peppers and high-end Spanish tuna deliver a dish with a burst of creamy rich flavor.  It’s worth noting that this recipe was from an article entitled “A Lesson in Cupboard Cooking”.  In it, Grace extolled the virtues of keeping a well-stocked pantry from which to “shop” for dinner.  This makes such good sense for all those nights when you get home late, the lines in the supermarket are daunting or when the weather keeps you indoors. 
The only caveat to this idea is that you need to keep track of what is in the pantry.  If you don’t, it’s almost guaranteed that when you finally remember that jar of hearts of palm, it will have an expiration date of 2004. 
        
The pantry raid for our Cazuelas (Casseroles in Ingles) involved the red Spanish peppers, pequillos.  Once these were worthy of a Google search to find.  Now Trader Joe’s carries their own store brand.  The Tuna or Atun should be of the highest quality, packed in olive oil. You will find that in addition to the Spanish brands, there will be Portuguese and Italian versions.  They all cost at least four times what you’d pay for Bumblebee but there is a profound difference in quality and taste. It’s advisable to use all the tuna in the package at one go. I’ve discovered it does not keep well once opened.  But this recipe which is for four people will use the entire 6 oz. all by itself.  My problem was in halving the recipe.  It’s wonderful to serve these in individual gratin dishes but if you don’t have a supply of them, you can make this in a 9 x 9 baking dish.  But do make it.  And do call them Cazuelas de Atun y Farfalle.  Doesn’t that have a prettier ring than “Tuna Noodle Casserole” ?  Here’s the recipe:  

Recipe for Cazuelas de Atun e Farfalle from Grace Parisi in Food and Wine Magazine 40 Minutes Start to Finish.  Serves 4.  
12 ounces farfalle pasta
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk or half-and-half
1 1/2 cups frozen baby peas
3/4 cup piquillo peppers, sliced (6 ounces)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
One 6-ounce can or jar solid white tuna in oil, drained and flaked
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

Preheat the oven to 450°. Cook the farfalle pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.










Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion and cook over high heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. 




Add the milk and bring to a boil. Cook the sauce over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 3 minutes.






Add the farfalle pasta, frozen baby peas, sliced piquillo peppers, Parmigiano cheese and tuna and season with salt and pepper. 






Transfer the mixture to a large baking dish, a cazuela (casserole dish) or 4 individual gratin dishes.







In a small skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the panko and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. 






Sprinkle the panko over the casserole and bake for 10 minutes (5 minutes for individual gratins), or until bubbling. Serve right away.