Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Cali Diet: Part 1 My Love Hate Relationship with Tuna

Well some things can change in an instant. From good to bad, bad to good or sometimes from just a whatever Tuesday to all of a sudden counting down the days... mere days!... until I fly out to LA for the MTV Movie Awards as I was invited last minute through the network. For being mostly just a regular old job, albeit one I love, it can also be totally and completely cool in random and unexpected ways. What this also means is that I am on an immediate beach diet, starting yesterday.

The good thing is that with a few outdoor concerts down in Maryland and Virginia next weekend and heading down to a beach house in Avalon a week or 2 after that, I was already on bikini wear watch, now it's just amped up. Like a ton. But if you have any idea of who I am, either personally or through reading this blog, one thing I hope you can tell is that I'm not a dieter. Rather a good eater and exerciser who just kind of becomes even better at that when I have to.
If this is dieting then I'm on board
So as part of my summer preparation I've been trying to get into one thing I've just never cared for but know it's a great protein source, especially when cutting back the calories. Tuna. Oh sure, I love sushi grade tuna or a rare tuna steak seared just so, but I'm talking everyday, affordable tuna out of the can (or jar). I can't do it. *Blech*. But I'm trying. I've found I can stomach nicoise salads, namely because there are a lot of other "fillers." I'm so-so on tuna fish in sandwiches depending on what's in it and I prefer homemade to control all the flavors and fatty x-factors. And I will throw up if you try to give me a tuna melt. For realzies.

But I've been intrigued with tuna packed in jars with water. And as part of my tuna eating initiative bought a jar a few months ago. And there it sat. Waiting for the perfect recipe. Waiting for the night I got home after 2 hours at the gym, when I needed something to be delicious but also take 10 minutes to make. And when that day finally came yesterday I threw together the most delicious tuna pasta you could possibly imagine. Adapted partially from this recipe in Simply Recipes and a weight watchers recipe, but just kicked up a ton, I could barely believe I was eating canned (jarred) tuna. I particularly loved it because almost every ingredient was something I kept on my shelf or easily acquired in a store/market/deli/whathaveyou. It was delicious, but also so filling. I barely had a cup for dinner and was nearly stomach ache full. The perfect diet dinner. And just like that some things can truly change in an instant.

Tuna Pasta
1 6 oz. jar tuna- packed in water or olive oil
1 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbl capers
1 c. arugula
2 cloves garlic- minced
1 Tbl parsley plus 1 tsp
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 Tbl. breadcrumbs
1 Tbl shaved piave- or another hard cheese
1 c farfalle (bowties)- also good with fettuccine or linguine

1. Brink a pot of salted water to a boil and add the farfalle. While that is cooking set a saute pan on medium heat and add oil. When oil is hot add the oil, then the red pepper flakes, then the garlic.

2. As soon as the garlic is fragrant, drain the tuna and add, along with the capers, arugula and 1 Tbl of the parsley and saute for 5 minutes. Add the wine and let that cook off. Before removing pasta reserve 1/4-1/3 c. pasta water and add to the tuna if it looks dry.

3. Add the drained pasta to the tuna and mix well. Add breadcrumbs and shaved piave.

*For an even healthier meal use whole wheat pasta and only tuna packed in water. Can also leave off the cheese.

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