Friday, July 20, 2018

#FrannyCooks : Dona Elena Tuna Macaroni in Creamy Red Pesto Sauce

Pasta is one of the dishes that I am most comfortable in preparing. It's one that I can easily whip up when pressed for time or when I'm just craving for some comfort food. Normally though, it would take me at least 30 minutes to an hour to prepare a pasta dish as I have to cook the pasta noodles till al dente, prepare the sauce, incorporate both together, plate it, sprinkle with garnish and set it on the table. This doesn't also take into account the time spent in preparing each ingredient such as chopping the garlic, pulling out all sauces and sometimes, cleaning the seafood too.

A month ago, I received one of the best things that has ever graced my kitchen counter -- the Instant Pot. I have yet to tell you more about it but basically it's one powerful kitchen appliance that can cook rice, make porridge/congee, saute, cook even the hardest and toughest meat under high pressure, delay cooking and make yogurt. I have yet to explore all the functions but so far I've cooked a number of dishes there and I haven't been disappointed since. One thing that I love about it is I can actually cook my pasta dish using one single pot which helps lessen the hassle of dishwashing. It was indeed the best birthday gift that I've received this year.

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So, with cans of Dona Elena Tuna in Sunflower Oil and bottles of pesto sauces and olive oil, I was suddenly inspired to cook dinner the other night. Not wanting to go through the hassle of sweating it out in our main kitchen, I utilized my Instant Pot to create one of my favorite pasta dishes -- Tuna with Creamy Red Pesto Sauce.



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Here's what you will need:
- 4 cups of elbow macaroni or any pasta noodles of your choice
- 1 can of Dona Elena Tuna in Sunflower Oil
- 1/2 bottle of green olives, sliced thinly
- 1 whole garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp of Dona Elena Pure Olive Oil (remember, this is the one you use for cooking)
- 1 jar of Dona Elena Red Pesto Sauce
- 2 cups of All Purpose Cream / Culinary Cream
- salt and pepper for seasoning

Prepare it in 6 easy steps:
1) Cooking the macaroni:
- In the Instant Pot: Fill the pot with water making sure that the macaronis are fully submerged leaving 1/2 inch of water above it. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt. Cook in high pressure for 4 minutes and quick release right after. Drain the macaroni in a colander and run cold water over it. Be careful as it can be super hot!

- In the stove top: Follow the instructions in the package and don't forget to add salt in the water bath. Drain the macaroni in a colander and run cold water over it.

*note: I find that running cold water stops the cooking process thus keeping the macaroni firm just how I like it and it breaks up the starch too which can make it sticky and chewy.

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2)  Saute the olive oil and garlic until it browns at the edge. I just love the aroma of sauteed garlic. Add in the tuna flakes and continue to break up the tuna while mixing with the garlic.

3) Scoop in your red pesto sauce and be careful while doing so as oil may splatter around. Continue to saute until all the tuna flakes are well coated. Add in your olives too and continue to saute for 30 seconds.

4) Pour in your all purpose cream. This will immediately lessen the oil splatter and it's also a good time to lessen the fire. Season your sauce depending on your taste.

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5) Add in the macaroni and turn off from heat. Continue to mix until all are evenly coated.

6) You may opt to sprinkle cheese on top prior to serving. Enjoy!

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It was my first time to try this particular tuna variant (Dona Elena Chunks Tuna in Sunflower Oil) as I normally get the one in water. I actually liked it as it somehow gives the tuna a richer flavor. In addition to that, this is actually a very healthy product as it's cholesterol-free, has omega-3, protein, vitamin D and more. Since the tuna chunks are tasty as it is, you can easily add this in your salads too.

Here's also one thing that you have to remember: Dona Elena Pure Olive Oil is the one that you can use for cooking while the Extra Virgin Olive Oil type is perfect as dressings, dips or salad accompaniments. This was something new to me and I'm pretty sure a lot of people would easily interchange the two or not even know the difference of these two types of olive oils.

Speaking of olive oils, Dona Elena recently partnered with the Raintree Group where you can enjoy a number of their specially crafted dishes such as Chelsea's Pesto Marinated Grilled Chicken Fusilli Pasta or Museum Cafe's Slow Poached Salmon with Sundried Tomato Pesto, Warm Dill Potato Salad and Arugula Salad with Lemon all using Dona Elena's olive oils, pesto sauces and more. These are all limited edition dishes which will only be available up until the end of July. That's this month! Check it out!

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