Vancouver in the late 1970s and 1980s was a great place to eat out. We were young, making a pretty good living, and we were out for dinner pretty regularly. Two of my favorite restaurants from that time were Italian, lovely warm space, friendly owners and staff, and absolutely terrific food. One of those restaurants, Francesco Alonghi, has reinvented itself as Francesco’s, and I go there fairly often, but the more intimate restaurant it used to be was definitely more to my taste. The other restaurant, Umberto’s Il Giardino, is gorgeous, as you can see below, but it too, is now gone.
Downtown Vancouver is a mecca for developers and the block Il Giardino had stood on, in a beautiful pair of renovated old houses, is now turning, as is most of the city, in condos. It closed last summer, and the biggest sorrow of that, besides the loss of the great food, is the loss of the prettiest patio in Vancouver.
But the recipes live on and this is one that I make fairly regularly as it’s simple and delicious.
Farfalle all Puttanesca (aka pasta with tuna, black olives and tomatoes)
Use packaged pasta. I like farfalle because it’s beautiful (looks like a fan). Cook 1 lb./500 g. farfalle al dente, for me, it’s somewhere around 5-7 minutes.
1 shallot finely chopped
1 whole clove garlic
2 tbsp/25 mL olive oil
1 (28 oz/796 mL) can Italian tomatoes, include the liquid
4 large whole leaves of fresh basil
1 (6.5 oz/184 g) can flaked white tuna (drained)
10 Calamata black olives (halved and pitted)
Saute shallot and garlic in olive oil for 1 minute until shallot soft and transparent. Remove garlic from skillet.
Put tomatoes, tomato liquid and basil together in blender or food processor and puree. Add to skillet and cook for 15 minutes or so.
Crumble tuna into skillet and gently stir. Add olives to skillet and gently stir. Cook sauce for 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add farfalle to sauce in skillet. Toss and heat. Serve on warm plates. Sprinkle with julienned fresh basil.
I wouldn’t add cheese. It’s too much for these flavors.