I don’t know about you, but it feels as if summer is flying by. When my kids were young and I had three toddlers under the age of 3, I thought I was busy, but looking back at the days when my little ones were happy just splashing in the little blow-up pool in the backyard, or jumping in the sprinkler on a hot day, I realize how much I miss those precious years where we just hung out in our backyard.
Now that I have three teenagers in the house, with two that are not driving yet, but have lots of places to go, I have been playing chauffeur, day and night. In fact, I am driving more during the summer than I did during the school year! Although things get started a bit later in the day during the summer, our days end later too. Evening baseball games that start right at dinnertime are especially challenging. With teenagers who don’t wake up until late morning, meals are totally unscheduled. In fact, there have been some days when they wake up so late that it’s nearly lunch time, which shifts the entire meal schedule for the day.
With evening baseball games that often start at 5-6PM, dinner usually has to wait until 8PM, after the baseball game is over. Tonight was no exception. The only problem was that it was near 95 degrees today and the last thing I felt like doing was make dinner at 8 o’clock at night. I was advocating for picking up dinner on the way home, but everyone was anxious to get home after a long, hot, muggy two-hour game.Fortunately, I had just finished looking through Judith Jones’ The Pleasures of Cooking for One and had some ideas for dinner. Judith Jones is one of 50 Women Game-Changers in food recently recognized by Gourmet Live, and this week, she is being honored by a small group of food bloggers who have been celebrating these influential women in food by cooking a recipe from each of them over a 50 week period.
Judith Jones is the legendary editor of some of the world’s greatest cooks, including Julia Child, James Beard, Lidia Bastianich, Marion Cunningham, Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey, Jacques Pepin, and Nina Simonds.
In the introduction of The Pleasure of Cooking for One, Judith Jones writes, “After my husband, Evan, died in 1996, I was not sure that I would ever enjoy preparing a meal for myself and eating it alone. But as I described in The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food, I was wrong, and I soon realized that the pleasure that we shared together was something to honor. I found myself at the end of the day looking forward to cooking, making recipes that work for one, and then sitting down and savoring a good meal.”
At first, when I read this introduction, I thought, how sad; but, after a short pause, I realized what a gift Judith Jones has given her readers in this practical cookbook, filled with simple recipes that can be enjoyed over the course of the week. Cooking for one doesn’t have to be bland and boring – in fact, it can be beautifully presented and ready to eat without much fuss.
To accommodate my son with wheat allergies, I substituted brown rice pasta for regular pasta (everyone had brown rice pasta and no one noticed); I also added some capers as I like their briny flavor. Since this recipe was written for one serving, I simply quadrupled it for tonight’s dinner (everyone enjoyed a gluten-free meal). Served with a simple green salad, dinner was on the table in less than 30 minutes.
Penne with Tuna, Plum Tomatoes, and Black Olives
Adapted from The Pleasures of Cooking for One. If fresh tomatoes are not available, use canned chopped tomatoes instead. Add some capers if you like. I used chicken broth in place of the pasta cooking liquid for more flavor.
Penne with Tuna Plum Tomatoes and Black Olives Recipe
- 2 ounces penne I used gluten-free brown rice pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion or shallot sliced thin
- 1 garlic clove peeled and sliced
- 2-3 ripe plum tomatoes cut into rough chunks
- A splash of white wine
- 2 ounces canned tuna in olive oil
- 8 Italian or Greek black olives pitted and quartered
- 1 teaspoon capers rinsed and drained, optional
- 1/4 cup chicken broth optional
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- A generous handful of chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Cook pasta until al dente, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta cooking liquid for the sauce.
- Heat oil in a skillet and saute the onion until limp, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add garlic slices and tomatoes and saute another minute.
- Add wine and cook down.
- Break up tuna and add chunky flakes to the pan.
- Stir in olives and capers.
- Add at least 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid (or chicken broth) to thin the sauce.
- Toss cooked pasta with sauce.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle with parsley and serve.