This recipe came to us from Chef Pam McKinstry's friend Pete Johnson of San Jose, CA. Don't be deterred by the unusual combination of spinach, tuna, and bacon — it's utterly delicious!
The cooking technique is critical and allows the ingredients to melt together in an amazing way. It's important to use imported oil-packed tuna from Italy or Spain, often labeled tonno, for the best flavor.
You can substitute baby arugula for the spinach, if you like; to lighten the calorie/fat load, you can also substitute turkey bacon (but don't tell Pete).
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water, then add the linguine. Cook until al dente, or according to package directions.
Meanwhile, place the bacon, olive oil and pepper flakes in a large skillet (preferably nonstick) and cook over medium heat until the bacon is crispy. Add the garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes.
Add the wine and raise the heat to medium-high. Stir in the tuna and the spinach, and cook until the spinach wilts (it may be necessary to add the spinach in batches, adding more as it cooks down).
By this time the linguine should be ready. Transfer the pasta to the skillet with tongs and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Cook the pasta-tuna mixture for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly, so the pasta absorbs the oil in the skillet. Add some of the reserved pasta cooking liquid if the mixture is dry.
Divide the pasta between 3 warm bowls and garnish with shaved or grated parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve hot.