Broccoli, Tuna & Lemon Pasta

In all the articles on how to blog, one of the rules is that you never ever apologize for not posting in a while. Never ever? NEVER. EVER.

It draws attention to to you not posting for a while, and that is bad. People will stop following. Ugh, I think we’ve past that point so, I’m going to be up front about it as I prefer transparency. While I admittedly neglected this blog for a bit, it never felt over to me. I’ve just been on sabbatical.

It has been just over 10 years since I started writing this blog, which is shocking. I wasn’t trying to be famous. I didn’t want to be known or an “influencer” (whatever that is). At first, it was just a way to let my family and friends know what was going on with me after I moved to Amsterdam.

Then it evolved into a place for me to share good recipes, go on neurotic rants, worship spicy things and Texas, tell stories about people in my life, cartoon-ishly personify food items, offer a mea culpa from time to time, work through personal stuff, create a diary of my travels, and, on occasion, share too much information.

If it interests the masses, supercalifragilisticexpialadocious. If not, fine by me. I’ll still do it for as long as possible.

Each post takes approximately 10-15 hours. From beginning to end, creating a blog post entails conceptualization, brainstorming, planning, shopping for ingredients and tools (if required), testing the recipe in the slowest motion possible to allow time for photos at each stage of the process, editing all those photos, cleaning up, eating the food, tweaking and finalizing the recipe, writing the intro story, and getting it up on the blog to be published. Even more time is needed if the recipe is enough of a failure to necessitate another trial.

It’s an investment, but one that gives me immense joy. And it’s a bonus when it gives y’all joy too.

The “writing the intro story” part (such as what you are reading right now) has been holding me back for the last couple years.

It is not an easy task and requires a burst of inspiration that fuels the post. So if I have a great recipe but no bursting stories to tell, then I don’t do a post. I’ve had a stack of recipe ideas for three years scattered across Post-its, scraps of paper, a few dozen Text Edit files, and a multitude of emails to myself, but very few inspirational bursts. Usually I come up with my best ideas in the shower, which is challenging in itself because there is NEVER anything to write on in there! But the last few years, even my showers have been idea-less.

About three years ago, my life turned upside down. It felt like I was being shaken outside a window by my pinkie toe, until everything I had was released from my grasp. Back to ground zero.

In the aftermath, there wasn’t much head space left for creative exploration.

I lost my voice like Shania Twain.

Well, not EXACTLY like Shania. She literally lost her voice. I could still talk, but I couldn’t write. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t create. I couldn’t be free. My creative pathways were severed and as Dr. McDreamy said, “they need time to find new pathways”. All my available brain power was focused on climbing back to normalcy and stability.

Now, I’m happy to say I’ve got my groove back like Stella.

I’ve got a few posts on simmer and hope to entertain and feed y’all for a good long while. I will not be back to posting every week like the good old days, but that is because I’m tied up conquering the world. Like a GIRL!!

So where do we go from here, now that I’ve drowned you in soul-bearing movie theater nacho cheese?

If you’re still with me, I want to tell you a little about today’s recipe: Broccoli, Tuna, Parmigiana, and Lemon Pasta. I know that’s a long unflashy name, but all 5 of those things deserve equal footing and I couldn’t think of anything catchy. Do not take it out on the pasta.

I learned a version of this from someone I used to know that I don’t like very much, but at least I got this pasta. Kind of ironic because this pasta helped me recover from said person.

The original had tons of chopped garlic and arugula instead of broccoli. Now you’re probably thinking, “I kept going after all the feelings and confessions and now she tells us that she thought taking out the garlic was a GOOD idea?! And she replaced it with broccoli?! I’M OUT. She’s gone too far. Let’s boycott her advertisers.” Jokes on you. I don’t have advertisers.

Just shut the door when you leave…

For those still here, so I took out the garlic. Why? Because of pure laziness. This pasta is easy to make and the garlic ruined that minimal effort thing I usually look for when I’m too busy, lazy, depleted or just plain craving-it kind of mood. Chopping and stickiness and peeling. NO. I don’t even use a cutting board for this shit.

In betwixt all of the business world conquering and rebuilding mental health, I have had very little time for hassle. Therefore, when it is time for nourishment, I need to go from zero to delicious in the shortest amount of time possible.

So, in an evolution purely motivated by trying to eat more vegetables and less pasta (because I’m in my 30s) and reducing dirty dishes, the final version became this and I ADORE IT.

It is important to note that this recipe is for one super hungry person (or two non-gluttonous people). Measuring is not required and highly discouraged. I also implore you to mess with it and make it yours. Replace the broccoli with arugula or cauliflower or Swiss chard or spinach. Add crushed red pepper. Mix up the cheeses. Change the pasta cut. Maybe don’t add tuna at all. Or add the garlic back in and make up for my blasphemy.

Without further ado, I give you “The First Recipe in a Good Long While”.

broccoli, tuna, parmigiana and lemon pasta recipe

  • A couple big handfuls (about 80g) of short cut pasta (I prefer fusilli or farfalle, but have also used penne, pepe rigate, and even spaghetti and bucatini broken into thirds.)
  • 1 can of high-quality tuna
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • A couple big handfuls of broccoli, cut into florets then quartered. Use the trunk and the leaves too, they are deeeelicious. They just need to be cut into small enough pieces where they cook in 1-2 minutes max to preserve flavor and their pretty green color.
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • A lot of grated parmigiana, grana padano or another hard aged cheese, you pick the amount

In a small-ish pot (as this is for one), boil water. When it starts to boil, salt the water generously so that the pasta is seasoned. While the water boils, you can cut up the broccoli and prepare the sauce. The broccoli should be thin-ish (as seen below) so they cook in just a couple minutes, if not less.

In a small sauce pan, warm olive oil over low heat. How much? I use a small saute pan and add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan so maybe like 3 to 4-ish tablespoons. Add tuna and cook on low until crispy on one side. Then flip the tuna, and let cook a couple minutes then turn off the heat. My tuna tends to pop and splatter, so recommend covering with a lid or screen to keep your stove pristine.

Add lots of freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle of salt. Once it’s cooled a little and is no longer sizzling, add lemon juice. Set aside until pasta is done.

Cook the pasta for 8-9 minutes, until just before pasta reaches al dente. Add the broccoli.

Once the broccoli is fork tender (which only takes about 1-2 minutes) and pasta is al dente, take off the heat and drain.

Throw the broccoli, pasta, and tuna-lemon-olive oil concoction into the pot. Stir it until the sauce is absorbed by the pasta and tuna breaks up. You could totally add more olive oil at this stage. Do what you feel is right for you.

Layer into a bowl with loads of grated parmigiana reggiano or grana padano. Do it, go nuts. I find that layering better melts the cheese giving it a gooey almost-baked pasta feel. By layering I mean, in your vessel of choice put some hot pasta, then a layer of cheese, then some hot pasta, then a layer of cheese, then some hot pasta, and top with, you guessed it, a layer of cheese.

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