Cook's Country

Spaghetti with Tuna and Capers

IT’S LATE AFTERNOON on a Wednesday, and the sun has just sunk behind the horizon. I’ve spent the day at home, juggling work, kids (three), and a brand-new puppy. My stomach is rumbling, but my energy reserves are running short—the last thing I can imagine doing is going to the grocery store. Instead, I’ll dive into the pantry.

Good news. There’s a can of tuna. There’s a box of spaghetti, a jar of capers, a head of garlic, and some red pepper flakes. Oh, and in the refrigerator, there’s half a bunch of parsley and a wedge of Parmesan cheese. “Good news, kids!” I shout. “It’s pasta night!”

I’m a die-hard fan of simple pasta dishes such as aglio e olio, the streamlined Italian dish of noodles, olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. For dinner tonight, I’ll simply be layering in more flavor in the form of meaty oil-packed tuna, briny capers, and savory Parmesan cheese. And unlike most pasta recipes we’ve created in the past, this one will be cooked all in one pot. Fewer dishes to deal with.

I start by cooking the spaghetti. Experience tells me that undercooking the pasta up front is the way to go; I’ll finish it off in the sauce so that it’s al dente once it hits the table. Just 5 minutes in a pot of rapidly boiling water (a strict 3 quarts to ensure plenty of starch in the cooking water, which I’ll use in the sauce) is enough for

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