Big Pasta

Emeril cooks with Lidia Bastianich

Carol was channel flipping as I walked through the room. “There’s Lidia,” she exclaimed. Lidia is Lidia Bastianich, an Italian cook of a certain age, who has a show on PBS. Here she was cooking with Emeril on the Food Channel. Her mantra is “keep it simple,” and indeed, the dishes she presented were simple but enticing. We learned that she had recently opened Lidia’s Pittsburgh, and we would be going there soon.

I sprung into action. First, to download the recipes from this show, and second, to make reservations at Lidia’s for the time when we’re in Pittsburgh. That’s another story, to appear in this space after our trip.

The cooking was to follow.


mise en place: bucatini, oil packed tuna, calamata olives, tomato paste and red pepper flakes, onions and garlic, parsley.

This pasta is big in more ways than one. The dish is just big flavored good! We had never had bucatini before, it’s a thick spaghetti shaped pasta that is hollow in the center, similar to a straw. Now that’s an interesting experience; you can’t suck it into your mouth due to the hollow center, and the pasta is fat, so it’s hard to twirl it on a fork. I resorted to bunching the pasta with my fork, against my spoon in the other hand, leading it to my mouth and biting off the excess. Sloppy good. It makes for interesting eating.

Get your mise en place together before starting, because once started, this baby is quick.


Bucatini with Italian Tuna and Calamata Olives
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2006, Emeril Live, Wholly Macaroni
I cut the recipe in half to serve two, this is the half-recipe.

1/2 pound dried bucatini pasta
Kosher salt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup small diced red onion
2 cloves thinly sliced garlic

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Italian tomato paste (I used the kind you squeeze out of a tube.)

3/4 cups reserved pasta cooking water
3/8 teaspoon salt
3/8 cup pitted and chopped calamata olives
1 (7-ounce) jar olive oil packed tuna, oil drained and tuna flaked (Spend the time and money to find the good Italian Tuna)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Set a large, 4 to 6-quart stockpot filled with water over high heat and bring to a boil. Season the water with the kosher salt and add the bucatini. Cook the pasta for 5 minutes before starting the sauce. While the pasta cooks, set a 12-inch saute pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic to the pan cook the onions, stirring occasionally until soft and slightly caramelized, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and tomato paste to the pan. Drain the pasta from the pot and add it to the pan as well as the reserved pasta cooking water. Season the pasta with the salt and add the olives, tuna and parsley to the pan. Continue to cook the pasta, tossing to incorporate the ingredients, until most of the water has evaporated and the pasta is well coated with the sauce, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve with the Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Serious, lip-smackin’ big flavored YUM, out of those simple ingredients.

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