13 Sep Tuna puttanesca – a favourite – eat the ocean
So this week my budget has been a bit lean. After a weekend away, most of my grocery money was chewed up eating out in Canberra. And even though I was quite conservative with my eating-out adventures in Canberra, it still made a dent in my budget (that at the best of times, the cost of living crisis is starting to make feel totally inadequate). In these desperate times, it feels like a good idea to break out one of my favourite meals to cook – tuna puttanesca.
If you are a single person in Australia, how much do you spend on groceries and food that you cook yourself each week? On Hack a couple of weeks ago, when they were talking about the obscene profits of the grocery duopoly (Woolworths and Coles), a single guy said that he thought $80 was a lot to spend on groceries a week. I was surprised, I have to say.
My budget is generally $150 a week and that has been really very comfortable, until recently. (An episode of psychosis didn’t help, admittedly). I can still manage it, I think, but it does take a bit more planning. And like many of us (not baby boomers) in this environment, it becomes necessary to really rationalise the way that we plan meals, how much we are eating out, and other important concessions.
Pantry staple cooking ideas
So, because I didn’t have a whole heap of cash this week, I planned to make a very cheap pot of Japanese curry with brown rice, and a big bowl of sunshine slaw for lunch, as well as a fall-back option of tuna puttanesca with many ingredients I already have in my pantry and fridge. I also planned for some staple snacks of baked tofu, baked tempeh and some soy/coconut yoghurts. It is so funny though. As soon as you know you are skint, all sorts of cravings come up. Today all I wanted was corn chips or popcorn. A piece of toast and some walnuts needed to suffice!
I also had most of the ingredients for a yummy omelette on a piece of toast each morning (or peanut butter on toast, or a bowl of granola if I didn’t feel like an omelette). So, I could be quite conservative when I went shopping on Monday.
That was the plan. And it worked. Except for the fact that I am tired of Japanese curry, because I have eaten it for the past two nights, and so, I am so glad I planned for a second dinner option. Tuna puttanesca is one of my favourite dishes of all time, and it is so fun to cook, so it will be a lovely alternative this evening.
Tuna puttanesca recipe
It is not particularly ‘glamorous’ but it is easy to make and it is very tasty. It is all about the saltiness of the olives (and optional capers) that make this dish so wonderfully oceanic.
Eat the ocean - Tuna Puttanesca
- 1 brown onion diced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 cloves garlic grated or minced
- 1/2 chilli (or 1 whole chilli if you like a kick) diced (or sub 1 tsp chilli flakes)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 4 cups favourite veggies (diced) - or veggies left over in fridge for example: broccoli, carrot, eggplant, capsicum, zucchini, mushrooms, cabbage
- 1 can organic cherry or diced tomatoes BPA free lining of can
- 1 185 g can tuna in springwater or oil if you prefer sustainably line caught
- 1 tbsp capers (optional)
- 10 pitted kalamata olives halved - essential!
- 1 tbsp mixed antipasto veggies like capsicum, or artichoke pickled in brine (optional)
- 2 cups wholemeal or qunioa short pasta (or your favourite pasta) I used spirals - they work well
- 4 tbsp almond parmesan (see notes) optional but yummy!
- Heat olive oil in skillet until shimmering
- Add diced onion and saute for 5- 7 minutes until softened and translucent
- Add garlic and chilli and cook, stirring for 30 sec to 1 minute until fragrant
- Add diced veggies and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 - 7 minutes
- Meanwhile put a medium pot of water on to boil and when boiling add salt and pasta and cook for packet directions of pasta
- Add canned tomatoes, tuna, antipasto veggies, olives, capers if using, cover and simmer for 15 minutes
- Serve puttanesca on a bed of pasta with almond parmesan sprinkled over the top (if using)
Such a wonderful meal, that feels rich and luxurious, but really is a very simple meal of pantry and left over ingredients.