Pirate Pasta

What makes a house a home? I was thinking about this while I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes. It’s our 13th day in the new house and while there are more things to do to make it feel more like our place, it is now starting to look like home. The smells of fresh varathane on the newly sanded floors and the slight musty odors from the basement are all but faded.  Of course cleaning helps to eliminate odors but for me when a house is perfumed by aromas from cooking that’s when I know I’m home. The transition period in any new surroundings can seem overwhelming at times and so the first month is always a test for me. It’s a test I’ve done many times over and each time it’s a success so this move will be no different.

I was watching Giada De Laurentiis for the first time the other day and enjoyed her show. This recipe covers ingredients I love to use. Shiitake mushrooms are delicious in this dish and help provide an excellent source of B vitamins, iron, dietary fiber, and a good source of protein. Pecorino is a hard cheese made from sheep’s milk and the word, pecora, means sheep in Italian. This cheese hails from the south. It is soft and mellow when young and becomes sharp and tangy with age. It contains a good amount of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and a good source of protein. Capers contain healthy levels of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin K, niacin and riboflavin (Niacin helps lower LDL cholesterol).

Serves 4

adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

500g (1 lb.) penne or other favorite tubular pasta
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup mushrooms, such as cremini, button or shiite, sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup medium green olives (about 18), pitted and halved
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
One 10 oz. or two 5 oz. cans tuna in olive oil, such as Tonnino, drained
1/2 cup  chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Place the pasta and 1/2 cup cheese in a large bowl and toss until coated.

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms begin to brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the olives, tomato paste, capers, red pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and the tuna. Using a wooden spoon, break up the tuna into 1-inch pieces. Add the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove the garlic and discard.

Pour the tuna mixture over the pasta. Add the remaining 1/2 cup cheese and the basil, and toss until coated, using the reserved cooking liquid to loosen the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
  Just a touch of heat from the red pepper flakes to bring out all the flavors in the sauce. This dish is super easy and ready to serve in under 30 minutes.  Enjoy!


  1. The Curious Cat on October 20, 2011 at 17:33

    Hmmm I like the sound of this – and not too complicated. I’m in awe of the turkey below tho…gotta try that!!! But this may take a while to get organised and buy all the stuff I need! xxx

  2. The Culinary Chase on October 23, 2011 at 01:10

    Thanks Curious! Give it a bash, I’m sure you’ll like it. Cheers!