Although it should be against the law to start classes before Labor Day, summer is over for most families here in the Free State. While the lunar calendar affords us a few more weeks until the autumnal equinox, the school calendar forces us to get back to some sort of mealtime routine.

And that usually means supper in a hurry to fit our more regimented schedules. Indeed, even those of us without brilliant little students at home tend to adopt a slightly more regular schedule when school starts up again.

The culinary challenge this time of year is to fix something that's quick and nutritious, and since, thermally, summer's still here, something that doesn't heat up the kitchen too much. Oh yeah. And something comforting.

Our choice is obvious. Pasta, a.k.a. spaghetti. Our exercise du jour, then, is some fast-fixing dishes that can serve as main courses or side lights for storebought roasted meats: chicken, turkey, beef, etc. We've done what we could to ease the calorie count without sacrificing flavor. And they'll get you out of the kitchen fast — some of the sauces don't even require cooking — so you can drag everyone outside after dinner for a power walk around the neighborhood.


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Tuna spaghetti

Called "tonnato" sauce in Italian, this sauce becomes quite colorful and just a smidge peppery with the addition of baby arugula and baby spinach. If you can't find arugula, use all baby spinach.

Our no-cook (you'll still have to cook the pasta) tonnato sauce can serve as a main dish. Offer some Italian bread on the side. Maybe let them have some gelato for dessert.

When you cook the pasta, remember to reserve a cup or so of cooking water for the sauce.

2 (6-ounce) cans chunk light tuna in water, well drained, tuna squeezed as dry as possible

2/3 cup lite mayonnaise

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons water

4 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained well, divided

6 flat anchovy fillets, drained well on paper towels

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons water

3 ounces each baby arugula and baby spinach (trimmed if need be), for a total of about 14 cups

1 small head radicchio, finely sliced

1 pound spaghetti (No. 8), cooked al dente according to package directions (saving 1 cup cooking liquid for the sauce)

In a blender, puree tuna, mayonnaise, olive oil, water and 3 tablespoons of the capers until smooth. Taste for pepper, and salt if using.