When I was fifteen years old, I went on holiday without my parents for the first time. I went with a friend to stay with her aunt and uncle. Which sounds pretty tame, until you realize that they lived in Portugal, which made it necessary for us to cross half of Europe, 36 hours by train, on our own. My mom must have been worried out of her mind, although she never let on at the time...

The aunt and uncle of my friend were not actually Portuguese. They were Dutch like us and had gone to Portugal out of a religious urge to do something good in the world. In Portugal they ran a farm, where Portuguese ex-addicts came to learn a job and to learn about Christ so they would be better prepared for a life without heroin. I have no idea about the rate of success of this program, but it did not make for a very opulent living, so meals at the farm were simple.

One of the things we regularly ate was rice with tuna and tomato sauce. The original recipe, made by my friend's aunt, was just that: white rice, with tuna from a can, and tomato sauce. I have fond memories of that recipe, mostly due to that holiday. I have no idea how it was made there, with fresh tomatoes or with ready-made tomato sauce... but I've managed to recreate the taste. I've also added some ingredients to the original to fill it out a bit. It is very easy to make and the friends I've fed this to all seem to like it, so it must be good :)

If you want to make your own, for two people you need the following:

  • 1 can of tuna fish (about 200 gram)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 courgette
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 small can of tomato puree
  • Freshly ground black pepper, salt, and a bit of dried oregano
  • Optional: a few green olives (without the stones)
  • And rice, of course. About 200 g, choose your own variety. Cheap white works well, I personally prefer brown rice for this, see what works best for you. Or just what is in your kitchen cupboard.

Start with boiling water for the rice. Then chop your onions and garlic into little bits. Cut the courgette and the tomatoes into quarter slices. Open the can of tuna and the can of tomato paste, and drain the tuna.

Put a bit of olive oil into a skillet or wok. On low fire, sautee the onion and garlic until they are soft. Then add the fresh tomatoes. Stir once in a while, until the tomatoes start to go soggy. Then add the tomato puree and twice that amount of water (i.e. one can of puree, two cans of water). Stir. Add the courgette and the tuna, stir, and leave to simmer.

If all has gone well, the water for the rice is boiling now. Cook the rice. (You can also prepare the rice in the official way. Suit yourself). When the rice is done, the sauce should be ready as well. Add salt, pepper and oregano to taste, add the (halved) olives and warm through. Drain the rice. Serve the sauce on a plate on top of the rice. See? Simple...

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