Social Distancing Sustenance: Pasta Quarantine

**Makes a massive bowl of pasta for one, because honestly, no one can touch you for a while.**


  • a big fistful of dry pasta of any kind (I used spaghetti)
  • salt
  • like half a head of garlic, unless you’re already rationing (and then, whatever you can afford to use)
  • dried chili flakes
  • olive oil (or whatever kind of oil you have)
  • about a tbsp of tomato paste
  • a small box of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 c.-ish of white wine
  • about 2 tbsps of capers
  • 1/2 c.-ish of canned tuna
  • a little bit of a hard cheese, like Parmesan


Fill a big pot with water and add a couple pinches of salt, then bring that sucker to a boil. Add your pasta and follow instructions on the box/bag (usually it’s like 8-10 minutes). Meanwhile, smash each clove your garlic with the flat blade of a knife. If anyone had any remaining patience for dicing a damn thing, it’s certainly gone now. Anyway, the garlic is going to kinda melt and caramelize down so it’s not going to be sharp, it’s going to be great — Someone Who Has Not Diced Garlic In Seven Years. Drain the pasta, and put it aside (like on top of one of your stacks of toilet paper). Put your oil in a pan on low heat and add the smashy garlic and the chili . When it starts to get all golden (like the sun you remember seeing once), add your tomato paste until its all sort of incorporated into a beautiful simmering mess. Now is the time to add your tomatoes, whole (unless they’re not cherry tomatoes, in which case, chop them, pronto). Turn up the music, pour a glass of wine/beer/harder stuff and dance a little in your kitchen. Give it a little bit of time. You want the tomatoes to break down a bit; you can assist them with a spatula after they get real soft. When everything gets super hot and bubbly (like the person you once were before you stopped showering and dating was cancelled), splash the wine into the pan. Maintain your sauce as if it’s the last of your sanity; it might be. Add the capers when it looks like it’s pretty close to a good consistency that will coat a spoon but still smother your pasta like your roommate/significant other is currently smothering you. After a couple more minutes, remove your pan from the heat, add the tuna and stir. Put your reserved pasta back in the pot it came from and then pour all your sauce over it. Toss and serve into a bowl. Or eat it straight out of the pot, I’m not judging. Thinly slice or grate some cheese on top, if you want. Pour some more of something into your glass; we’re in a pandemic, not prohibition. And please enjoy, because enjoyment is in critical supply at the moment.

A word on substitutions and omissions:

If you don’t have chili flakes, you could use fresh chilies or jalapeños if you have them, or even toss on some hot sauce at the very end. Or you can leave this out altogether. If you don’t have any oil, you could use butter or bacon fat or chicken fat (yum). If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, you could use a small can of jarred/canned tomatoes. If you don’t have capers, you could use olives, and it would be great. If you don’t have wine, you could thin the sauce as necessary with reserved pasta water. You could also use olive/caper juice, or broth of any kind. If you don’t have tuna, you could use anchovies or sardines, but you should add them before the tomato paste. You can also omit the fish and do it vegetarian, or add cooked chicken at the end. The cheese really isn’t necessary, so if you don’t have it, don’t stress! It will still be rich and delicious!

Happy cooking.

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