Grocery shopping has been real fun here, because besides Asian produce that are expensive (such as ginger, beansprouts, shallots, lemongrass etc.), a lot of the other produce are cheaper, fresher and/or tastier then those I have tasted in Singapore. Cherry tomatoes are 90% of the time, sweet and juicy and cost only SGD 2 per kilo; white/brown button mushrooms and Portobello mushrooms cost only SGD 7 or 8 per kilo; fresh big bunch of herbs like basil, Italian parsley, mint etc cost only SGD 1 to 2 and they are so fragrant! So sometimes I get a little way too excited sometimes and over-buy… oops!
So while Googling of ways to use up the abundant cherry tomatoes at home last week, I stumbled onto Carrian’s (Oh Sweet Basil) recipe, which looks perfect for a weeknight dinner. I didn’t have 1/2 cup of basil leaves, so I threw in whatever basil I had left. I also threw in a can of tuna (for some meat) and some mushrooms (our favourite). The resulting pasta is a cross between a tomato-based and an aglio olio, which may not score high in the looks department, but don’t judge its flavours by its looks! It was salty, sweet, umami and extremely flavourful! The combination of well-salted pasta, juicy and sweet tomatoes, chewy mushrooms, savoury tuna flakes, basil and Parmesan is so good that you definitely have to try it to believe it.
I decided to just name this dish Umami Pasta, because Umami means “pleasant savoury taste” which definitely fits the bill, and also because to call it Cherry Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Tuna, Basil & Parmesan Pasta is such a mouthful heh. Here’s how to make it!
|1) Cook your pasta.||2) While the pasta is cooking, sauté the garlic.|
|3) Add in sliced mushrooms.||4) Cook until mushrooms have shurnk in size.|
|5) Add in the tuna.||6) And plenty of cherry tomatoes.|
|7) Add in a little pasta water.||8) Squash the cherry tomatoes (be careful, the juice will spurt everywhere!)|
|9) Add in the drained pasta.||10) Toss in the cheese and basil.|
- 160 grams pasta, I used fusilli
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes, optional
- 200 grams mushrooms, sliced
- 1 can tuna in water/oil, drained (about 120-gram drained weight)
- 400 grams cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, julienned (or 1 to 2 teaspoons dried)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, more for garnish
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a pot of water to boil. Season well with salt (1 teaspoon table salt to 1 litre of water) and add in the pasta.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add in the oil, garlic and chili flakes (if using) and sauté until garlic is fragrant. Add in the mushrooms and cook until mushrooms have shrunk in size. Add in the tuna (the tuna will break up as you squash and stir later on), cherry tomatoes and 1/4 cup of pasta water.
- Bring the mixture to a boil then turn down the heat to a simmer. Squash half of the cherry tomatoes carefully.
- By now your pasta should be al-dente, drain the pasta (reserve another 1/4 cup of pasta water) and add them into the pan with the basil leaves and cheese. Toss the pasta well, then season with black pepper and add more pasta water if needed. (Pasta should be salty enough that do not warrant additional salt, but add a little if needed.)
- Plate the pasta. Drizze a little extra virgin olive oil on top and sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.