January 12, 2011

Wonderful Wednesday Recipes: Crème fraiche, Sweet Corn & Tuna Penne

The sun sets far too early, the air jabs at your throat like an assassin in the night, the wind screeches at all hours of the day, and the snow piles up until the ground looks a powdered sugar factory exploded. It's mid-January, thick in the depth of another freezing winter, the body craves warmth and simplicity. On chilly nights like this my mind turns to comfort foods that can be prepared without needing to venture to the market.

Store cupboard staples, always ready at your beck and call, are on the menu tonight in the form of a wonderfully easy - yet surprisingly tasty - pasta dish that I first whipped up about six years ago. It sprung forth from the fact that my husband adores the combination of sweet corn and seafood together (not that one can argue with him there, some types of fish and seafood do match wonderfully with the earthy, juicy, vaguely sugary taste of corn), and has popped up at our table each winter since its inception.

{Who could pass up a vintage ad featuring one of the main ingredients in this Wednesday's recipe that also happens to star the timelessly beautiful Maureen O'Hara? Not me, that's for sure! Smile In fact, not only does Maureen look ravishing (as always, she was such an elegant knock-out!), but the salad in this ad actually doesn't look half-bad either - though I'd probably save that for hotter weather, when the opposite of today rings true and the last thing you want to sit down to is a warm meal. Vintage Star-Kist Tuna ad via Bluwmongoose on Flickr.}


As with most pasta recipes, you can play around quite a bit here. If tuna isn't your favourite, why not swap in tinned or smoked salmon, tiger shrimp, or even some large, succulent langoustines (scampi)? You could also (and I have, it's equally tasty) forgo the seafood in favour of some (precooked) chicken, turkey or even (should you happen to have any on hand) duck meat. Likewise you can play around with the seasonings, trading cilantro or basil for the parsley, if you prefer (a large handful of arugula swirled through during the last few seconds of cooking, in lieu of, or in combination with, the parsley is also delightfully tasty).

Days like today, heavy with with the force of a snowstorm and tiring on the soul, really do call for nourishing, one plate dishes that can be thrown together in a matter of minutes, and this savoury, subtly Mediterranean pasta fits that bill perfectly.


Crème fraiche, Sweet Corn & Tuna Penne


- 1 can of good quality tuna (if you can get some of the wonderful Italian canned tuna that comes packed in olive oil, all the better), drained of any liquid/oil

-125ml crème fraiche

-2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese

-2 tbsp (or to taste) fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly torn or chopped

-1/4 tbsp dried oregano

3 tbsp olive oil

-200ml (or a bit more, if desired) evaporated milk

-1/2 cup cooked (frozen/fresh) or canned sweet corn (you can certainly add more if you’d like)

-Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, both to taste

-175 grams (dried) penne pasta



In a large non-stick frying pan, heat the drained tuna and olive oil over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Turn down the heat to low and add the crème fraiche and herbs. Stir well and simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in the corn and continue cooking over very low heat (stirring periodically while cooking).

Meanwhile, cook the pasta as per the directions on the package. Once the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain and add to the frying pan with the tuna mixture. Add in the parmesan cheese, evaporated milk, and salt and pepper, stirring well to combine.

Cook mixture over low heat for 2-4 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened to a nice, creamy consistency. Transfer pasta to a serving bowl or plate each portion and bring it to the table to be enjoyed at once (a little extra parmesan and some more chopped parsley sprinkled over top is a lovely finishing touch).


Makes 2 lunch or diner main course servings (this recipe can easily be multiplied as needed).

Bon appétit!

1 comment:

  1. We are freezing here in the West too, and I've had pasta two days in a row now (comfort food indeed!)

    Keep warm & safe!