Right about this time of the year I start thinking about light pastas, fresh tomatoes, anchovies and capers, and so many other things typical of the South of France; but more than anything, I start thinking of tuna. No, not tuna as in sushi, just plain tuna as in tuna fish. I also switch my cocktails to French dry roses and start wearing espadrilles and striped t-shirts. It must be time to move to the Riviera...physically or otherwise.
|La Leopolda, Cap Ferrat|
If you are part of the well healed LWL (Ladies Who Lunch) you will be readying your home in Cap d"Antibes or Cap Ferrat (Marbella and Ibiza are okay too), drawing up your guest list and thinking of some menus for practically every day of the week. The season, which goes from July to the end of August, is just around the corner. Better stock up on Campari and plenty of dry Rose.
|Restaurant Eden Roc, Hotel Du Cap, Cap D'Antibes|
If you are not part of that upper echelon, you will be readying your house in the Hamptons, Newport or Maine, maybe in Litchfield County or somewhere along the Hudson Valley. Everyone else will be hiding in their closet come the weekend. No matter where you are, there better be water around and if there isn't, don't bother even mentioning you have a summer house even if it is a country house. Case in point, now that our house is not directly on the lake, our weekend visitors have gone down by 90%!
Pastas in the Riviera are very popular in the summertime; but it's more about the main ingredient than the pasta itself. A popular combination is pasta with tuna, anchovies, olives, tomatoes and olive oil. As long as everything is in season, you can add or subtract anything you wish. Subtract the tuna or the anchovies and you have a good pasta, but not a great pasta.
To complement your lunch, don't forget a fresh tomato salad, some of those thin Italian breadsticks and a bottle of French rose from Provence. A lemon sorbet would be perfect for dessert. Then espresso and a well deserved nap!
I guarantee you will like this pasta, but only if you have it by the water, any water....turn on the sprinklers if everything fails.
|Something like this would do|
It's been awhile since I've visited any of those summer resorts but I still have the memories and the palate to try to reproduce some menus at home. Just close your eyes, smell the roses, listen to the birds and you could be anywhere! For the Pasta Provencal recipe click below.
Pasta Provencal With Tuna, Sun Dried Tomatoes And Olives In A Basil Bechamel
Serves 4 to 6
1 package imported Fusilli
2 cans of best tuna packed in oil , drained
1 large jar of sundried tomatoes. chopped
1 large jar of pimiento stuffed green olives, halved
2 TB finely chopped fresh basil
2 TB finely chopped fresh lemon balm
1 tsp. grated fresh lemon rind
3 cups Basil Bechamel Sauce
For the Basil Bechamel Sauce
6 TB butter
4 cloves garlic, mashed and minced
1/2 onion minced
6 TB white all purpose flour
4 cups of milk
salt and pepper
1 TB finely chopped basil
2 TB.chopped parsley
2 TB. Capers
1 small tin anchovies coarsely chopped (optional)
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Cook the fusilli in boiling salted water until al dente. Strain in a colander and set aside.
In a separate bowl mix the tuna, sundried tomatoes, olives, basil and lemon balm or rind in some olive oil. Add to the cool fusilli and mix.
For the bechamel sauce
In a skillet add the butter and sautee the garlic and onion until translucent. Add the flour and cook for one minute. Slowly add the milk and stir with a wooden spoon until it starts to boil and thickens. Add the chopped basil and 1 TB of the parsley. Remove from the stove.
Mix the pasta with 2 cups of the bechamel, and the capers. Add the anchovies if using. Transfer to a baking dish. Spoon the last cup of bechamel sauce on top. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese and minced parsley to cover the bechamel. I also sprinkle a thin coat of Panko over the cheese, about 3 TB depending on your baking dish..
Set in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Raise the temperature to 375 and bake an additional 10 minutes or until crust is golden. Serve with additional cheese on the side.
Recipe and photos Lindaraxa