2 November 2009

Canadian Chef Josée di Stasio and a Recipe for Pasta with Tuna & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Pasta with Tuna and Sun-dried Tomatoes

If you have been following More Than Burnt Toast you will know I started a weekly feature to highlight Canadian Chefs a few months back. Other commitments slowed my progress down, but now we are back in full force to bring you all that Canada has to offer!!! Through your TV networks, or perhaps on other blogs, or even just right here on More Than Burnt Toast you may have heard of some of our Canadian chefs. For those of you who haven't, I hope you will find it interesting to see what our chefs are up to, a little about their history and how they came to love what they do. For the next few months I will continue to feature one of our Canadian chefs each week. There will be some chefs you have heard of and adore and some lesser known who are up and coming. As the eleventh installment in my Canadian Chef series I introduce you to:

Josée di Stasio

Josée di Stasio is the host of the popular television cooking show, à la di Stasio in French -speaking Canada. Up to a few years ago she was a very happy food stylist working in the magazine and television advertising world in her native province of Quebec. Her friend, the popular francophone broadcaster Daniel Pinard, asked her to substitute for him on a TV show and she rapidly became one of "la belle province's" top culinary stars.

As a result, the award-winning cookbook author, television host and chef, has been a household name in her native Quebec for years. She has several French language cookbooks on the market and has just had one of her best selling cookbooks (which are based on the recipes from her cooking show) translated into English. The books were published initially in French, the first in 2004 and the second in 2007. With their full-colour photographs its is like having a friend in the kitchen.

She is rapidly becoming a darling for English-speaking Canadians too. I must admit to not being familar with her show until after the release of her English version book earlier this year. You know how that goes and once a person comes into your limelight you see their name everywhere!!!! Josée's casual but elegant recipes are simple to prepare and perfect for entertaining family and friends. Her delicious new book has a wonderful selection of classic and contemporary recipes always with an Italian flair and always using seasonal ingredients. Josée di Stasio's cooking is ultimately Italian, which means using few ingredients which allows the true flavours of a dish to shine. From "Pesto" to "Biscotti Double Chocolat"... the recipes are bursting with an Italian flavour!

She is focused on the sheer pleasure of cooking and its accessibility and loves the idea of people using her recipes as a guideline or a "jumping-off point". She wants to encourage creativity among cooks from beginners to the well-seasoned. She is a self-described lover of food with a gift for creating simple dishes and getting others to understand that they, too, can be creative in the kitchen. “I want to be a support for cooks, for them to want to make a recipe once and then play with the ingredients the next time,” she says.

This fall, Josée di Stasio presented the fourth season of her popular cooking show À la di Stasio. The show is in French but she draws you in with her inviting and funny personality... the fact that you only have a general idea of what is happening is AOK. The show, like di Stasio, is focused on the sheer pleasure of cooking and its accessibility. She likes recipes that don't require great long ingredient lists and dishes that go directly from oven to table. "If Jamie Oliver epitomises modern Anglo-Italian, then perhaps Josée de Stasio has added a French-Canadian twist." She is certainly proud of her roots.

I have yet to get my hands on a copy of her book but I discovered thisdelicious recipe on the Internet. If you close your eyes you can imagine yourself sitting in a vineyard somewhere in Italy....or in the Okanagan Valley. It has the complex and robust flavours of tuna packed in oil and sun-dried tomatoes with a touch of lemon zing.

I am headed to San Francisco for the Foodbuzz Festival on Thursday so the pages of More Than Burnt Toast will be silent for a while. The festival promises to be an experience of a lifetime where we will have a "hands on tasting, eating, drinking, networking and learning" weekend. We will be meeting many amazing foodie friends, and return home with awesome experiences to blog about. My partner and I at BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine will also be headed for a day of touring Napa Valley wine country. I can't wait to tell you all about it!!!!

**Pasta with Tuna and Sun-Dried Tomatoes**
a recipe by Josee di Stasio

4 tablespoons (60 mL), store-bought or homemade sun-dried tomato pesto*
zest of one lemon, finely grated
juice of 1/2 a lemon
aprroximately 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
15-20 black olives, pitted and chopped
200g (7 oz) spaghetti, or other shaped pasta
1 (198g /7 oz ) can tuna (packed in oil), drained and flaked
finely chopped Italian parsley, arugula, or basil, to taste
salt and freshly-ground pepper

In a bowl, mix together the pesto, the lemon zest and juice, the oil and the olives.

In a large pot, cook the pasta in boiling, salted water following the manufacturer's instructions. Remove 60 mL of the pasta cooking water and set aside, then drain the pasta.

Mix the hot pasta with the sauce, adding enough of the reserved pasta water so that the sauce clings lightly to all the pasta. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the tuna flakes and mix gently. Divide into two serving bowls, and garnish with the fresh herbs.

**Sun Dried Tomato Pesto**

1 cup (250 mL) sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
1/2 cup (125 mL) basil leaves
About 1/3 cup (80 mL) olive oil (or the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Drain the tomatoes. If the sun-dried-tomato oil is good quality, use it to make the pesto. In a food processor, pulse-chop the tomatoes and the basil. (At this point you can added extra flavourings, such as 1/4 cup (50 mL) grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, 1/4 cup (50 mL) pine nuts or toasted almond batonnets, a pinch of chopped garlic, or a dash of hot pepper paste).With the motor running, gradually add the oil until the paste is well mixed but not chopped too fine; you want to maintain a slightly chunky, toothsome texture. Season to taste.

Serves 2  - Makes 3/4 cup (180 mL)

"Life in Food is so Rich"

You may also enjoy Josée' other recipes:
Fresh Fennel and Italian Sausage on Fennel

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. I really Josée DiStasio and her TV programs! That is a lovely recipe!



  2. Mmmm, sun-dried tomatoes and tuna is one of my favourite combinations - either on pasta or in a sandwich!

  3. the very simple act of skipping the tuna would make this infinitely more appealing to me. it's a lovely, attractive yet simple dish, and i'm liking this lady and her outlook!

  4. I love, love, love sun-dried tomatoes. This Canadian Chef series is very interesting and I'm meeting so many chefs I'm not familiar with.

  5. Tuna pasta is my "go-to" meal when I can't be bothered cooking! I've never made it with sun dried tomatoes before! Looks absolutely delish!

  6. Ah there's nothing better than a good pasta dish for a slow and gloomy fall evening. Here's another Canadian chef I am glad to meet through your blog :)

  7. This pasta look really tasty and nice Vall! gloria

  8. Interesting isn't it that a can of tuna and some pasta combined with a few pantry items can be a delicious dinner. That's what makes Italian food so great!

  9. I am being introduced to so many new chefs through my Canadian friends...I love it! Josee sounds like somebody I would enjoy...I'll have to search her out. Have a blast in Cali...can't wait to hear and see your fun :D

  10. I'm so excited about the return of your Canadian Chef's series! Thank you for teaching us about these great Canadian Chefs! I'm eager to start looking for their cookbooks here in the states!

    Such an absolutely transporting recipe... Blissful...

  11. I learned to prepare spaghetti with tuna .. in 1975 in Bogota with an Italian friend, Aldo. Dry tomatoes were not available there and we used regular tomatoes. I have done it regularly ever since and will try this recipe. The pic is great!

  12. How is it that I've never see her work? She's only on the French channels right?

  13. I can almost taste that from here... Loving the addition of sun-dried tomatoes to give that extra tomatoey tang. Yum.

  14. I love her style. You get her show there? We don't seem to get it here yet. Love your Canada series!

  15. I have seen her show occasionally...go figure.. we can't get Christine Cushings latest show but....

  16. I love anything with sun-dried tomatoes. That pasta looks wonderful!

  17. If you have been following More Than Burnt Toast you will also know this is THE PLACE for fabulous pasta recipes. I'm sun-drying some tomatoes right now and I'm totally going to use it in this dish....without the tuna.

  18. I think that your initiative to present Canadian chefs is great and all the recipes you choose are so tasty and easy, especially this one. Perfect for a weekday meal.

  19. In Québec we love Josée di Stasio. I record all of her shows and buy her cookbooks. Her recipes have never failed me. The dish that you prepared looks delicious. Have a great trip Val.

  20. Val, I loooooooooooove your photos!!

  21. A quick and fresh tuna and pasta dish is a great weeknight meal but I have never added sun dried tomatoes before. Will have to soon as this sounds so flavorful.

  22. Thanks Val for introducing us to such great Canadian chefs and their fare. I'm sorry I won't see you at the foodbuzz festival- I was hoping to go but couldn't. Have fun in SF!

  23. This looks amazing; tuna with sun-dried tomatoes is one of my favorite combination's too! Great recipe. I'm looking forward to meeting you in San Fran on Friday for the Foodbuzz Festival!

  24. This looks absolutely wonderful! I love trying new pasta recipes. Thanks for sharing!

  25. This is a lovely meal and I love tuna.

  26. Great Combination! I wish sundried tomatoes were more affordable here. This is a lovely dish I would love and so would the kids!

  27. This pasta dish sounds sooooo devine!! I have never tried tuna and sundried tomatoes together. This is definitely one to book mark. Your recipes are always so delicious. :-)

    I have never heard of di Stasio until. If I could remember French from high school (and I always got marks in the 90's - sorry, had to brag a little hehehe), then I would buy her cookbooks in French. It's great that she has finally published her work in English and it sounds like Canada is embracing her with open arms. :-)

    Thanks for continuing you Canadian Chefs sessions on Friday. I always love to read them.

  28. I love her, she is one of my favourite chefs! If you get a chance try out every single recipe in both her books, they are all stunning. I watch her show as often as I can and her French is so wonderful, it's a pleasure to listen to. I'm still learning french but in Montreal the spoken word here is usually a mess. Anyways, thanks for posting about her, and if you are looking for any other recipes I have a few on my blog that we make every week!

  29. This is such a helpful post! I love making everything from scratch and this post lays out in very good detail.Thanks for sharing your talents..

  30. I was wondering why I didn't recognize Josee's name...she's on French TV!

    Good dish, the sun-dried tomato will offset that dryness that tuna can be.

  31. Monsieur GhislainNovember 13, 2009

    I found this article while googling for something else so forgive the hit and run, but I a just wanted to clear up a couple of things. Cuisine TV not the Canadian broadcaster of Mme Di Stasio's show. Cuisine TV is French. the show can be seen here on Télé-Québec. Secondly, Mme Di Stasio is not a chef. Her background is in communications and design and she's worked as a food stylist for print and television. She may be a very talented cook and cookbook writer, but she is by no means a chef.

  32. The power of the Internet. I have researched into Ms. Di Stasio and on each site as well as on Chapters/Amazon advertising her book they refer to her as a chef. Anyone know for sure?? Nowhere have I found information on her credentials but it can not be disputed that she is one talented lady.

  33. I enjoyed reading about Josee and love the recipe. Sun dried tomatoes are a hit in our home.


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