Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Tonno e Piselli

Our family is very lucky in that is includes generous people such as my mother-in-law.  She occasionally visits us on Monday afternoons and patiently listens to the children with their reading books, is audience and gentle critic to their choir rehearsals or upcoming speaking events, and sometimes brings along a loaf of bread to share from a local artisan bakery.  The handmade bread dough is swirled around garlic, and topped with salt flakes and olive oil.  It really is a treat for our family to see grandma, and it is lovely to break bread together.

I do, however, sometimes find it a struggle to adapt what we have in the house to create a dish complete with protein and vegetable that is suitable to eat with this bread as a starch, rather than potatoes, pasta, or rice.  The sort of foods we usually eat with bread, e.g. dhal, curries, fruity Moroccan-influenced stews, are partnered with flatbreads and do not sit well with the gorgeous oil-crisped, garlic-heavy and flowery olive-flavoured bloomer.  My husband takes soup for lunch, so I don't want to serve it to him twice a day.  I try to come up with variants of Italian inspired stews to serve with greens and the bread.  This is one of my favourites, and the one we went with yesterday evening (luckily, our oven and hobs are plugged in for another couple of days!)

It is nice when the peas are replaced with chick peas, which I believe is not unheard of in this dish, as I got the idea from a recipe book for an Italian recipe with tuna fish and fresh peas.  Using chick peas boosts the protein and calcium content, which makes up for the modest amount of tuna.  It also seems more filling.  If your tin of chick peas is packed with calcium chloride, then use the liquid from the tin to make up the water quantity listed below, simply making it up to 200ml with water from the tap if necessary.  The calcium chloride which is used as a firming agent in the tin gives you a bit of extra useful calcium.

Tonno e Piselli
1 tbsp. olive or rapeseed oil
2-3 onions, sliced
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
200ml water to swill out the tomato tin
250g passata
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme (or fresh from the garden if available)
1 bay leaf from the garden, if available
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and black pepper to taste
(or omit all of the above and use a bought jar of tomato sauce)
250g frozen peas or a 400g tin of chick peas
1 pack of tuna, we use this (around the same cost as branded sustainable tuna fish)

Warm the oil in a pan then use to soften the onions.  Add the remaining sauce ingredients and the peas.  Simmer for around 5 minutes until the peas have become tender.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf. Serve with the tuna flaked over the top as mixing it into the sauce breaks it up and it becomes indistinguishable from the stew.  It is perfect served with greens on the side, with bread to help mop it up.

* Costing approx £2.98 with frozen peas or £3.14 with chick peas
Prices from Asda and Vbites (tuna usually available at Holland and Barratt for the same cost) on 18/11/14

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