Well, the weather is excelling itself in its unpredictability here in West Wales! After the long Bank Holiday weekend where the sun blazed down (the hottest May Bank Holiday since the 1970s, I hear), the temperature plummeted today – and the wind and rain returned. To be honest, this didn’t bother me at all! I had a 12 mile run to fit in tonight – along part of the same hilly route I used for my long run on Sunday . . . when I MELTED in the heat! Seriously, we just aren’t used to it! The thing that helped me slug out the last 4 miles of Sunday’s run was the thought of getting home to a large bowl of tuna puttanesca!
After a long run it’s vital to replenish carb stores that you have burnt off, and also get some protein in to help repair the muscle fibres that you will have damaged – ready to help make them regrow stronger! 🙂 Traditional Italian puttanesca sauce is highly tasty and also has a range of health benefits: the monounsaturated olive oil has a range of well-known benefits, the saltiness of the anchovies can help replenish salt stores lost through sweating (plenty of that her on Sunday!), while the chilli included has a range of benefits to runners. Tomatoes are a great source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease. They are also a great source of potassium, folate, vitamin C, and also vitamin K. The garlic also provides a host of health benefits, as outlined in my recipe for vegetable balti soup.
The one thing missing from traditional puttanesca that stops it being the perfect post-run fuel is protein. The simple addition of a can of tuna puts this right – and adds a whole new flabvour dimension to the dish. Seriously, if your food choices allow you to eat tuna, try this and you will probably never go back to the ‘ordinary’ puttanesca. Seriously.
I’ve added a small amount of cheese to the tuna puttanesca recipe. But isn’t cheese high in fat and calories? Yes, it is – but remember that my philosophy is that no food is demonised and everything in moderation, and the strong taste of parmesan means that a little goes a long way. Besides, it also boosts the protein and calcium levels. You will probably find that the protein and fat contents also add to your feeling of satiety after eating it, keeping you feeling fuller for longer. Grating the parmesan finely helps to make it go further too.
This recipe is designed to be put together quickly – nobody wants to spend hours in the kitchen after a long run. Saying that, it lends itself ideally to being made in advance then reheated while the pasta is cooking, so a bit of forward planning and it can be ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta. So fresh tomatoes give way to the tinned version – so no skinning, seeding and chopping. I also suggest chilli flakes instead of fresh – but by all means go for fresh if you have the time and they are to hand!
Just don’t replace the fresh basil with dried, unless you really have to – the taste just isn’t the same – and you can’t use it raw in the final step.
Chopping the olives can be fun – chasing them around the chopping board! My top tip for that is to squash them slightly with the side of a large knife first. This makes them less mobile! You can use a food processor/ blender to chop them, but I prefer to do it by hand, as I like the variety of different sizes and coarser texture than a blender would give you. If you are going to use one, make sure you pulse carefully so you don’t end up with a puree!
I hope that you will give this tuna puttanesca a go. Don’t forget to let me know what you think about it in the comments!
Happy running, cooking and eating!
A delicious twist on the classic puttanesca recipe. The addition of canned tuna increases the protein content, making it perfect fuel for after a long run.
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp fresh basil leaves
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tin anchovy fillets in olive oil
- 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 285g tinned tuna flakes in spring water drained
- 165 g black olives (from a jar, drained weight)
- 1 tbsp capers
- 1 tbsp parmesan finely grated
- 250 g dried pasta
Finely chop the garlic and coarsely chop the basil.
Chop the olives. A food processor speeds up the process, but you will need to be careful not to end up with a puree!
Add the olive oil along with the oil from the tin of anchovy fillets to a saucepan and heat. Cook the garlic gently for around 2 mins
Add the tomatoes, chilli flakes, tomato puree, anchovies, half the basil, chopped olives, tuna and capers.
Stir together well and simmer gently for around 20 minutes until reduced and thickened. Stir from time to time. Remove from heat
Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Drain and add to the sauce, add the remaining basil, toss and serve in bowls with the parmesan sprinkled on top.