Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pasta with Tuna

This is a dish I could make with my eyes closed. It is a sort of comfort food in my family, and it is made with ingredients that are always available in an Italian pantry, so you could make it when there is "nothing" in the fridge. The same maybe is not true of an American pantry, since anchovies have a very bad reputation around here and I don't think many people has even ever tasted capers. You can use any kind of canned tuna, or, if you want to have an Italian experience, go to an Italian supermarket and find Mediterranean Tuna in a jar, like Callipo, but at about 10$ a can I don't know that I would recommend it for such a simple recipe. As for the tomato sauce, I like the sauce that comes in a glass bottle, when I find it, and that is just tomatoes, no onions, no herbs, no other aromas. Otherwise I just buy a tomato puree, like Defratelli or any other regular brand. I did not indicate the exact amount of tomato sauce because it depends on your taste: some people like it more "white" others like it swimming in sauce, I am for something in between. As for the pasta, the rule in Italy is about 3.5 oz per person. I like using spaghetti grossi from Barilla, which is a kind of spaghetti that are slightly thicker than the average, but of course any spaghetti would work.

(for 4 people)

14 oz of Tuna packed in water
Tomato Puree
1 big head of garlic
2 anchovies
2 teaspoons of small capers
1 tablespoon of fresh Italian parsley
red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon of paprika 
about 1 lb of spaghetti grossi
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil


Fill a large pot with water and start boiling.
While the water is warming up, in a medium skillet heat up the olive oil and the peeled garlic clove.
Add the anchovies and smash them with a wooden spoon while cooking so that a sort of anchovy paste is created.
Add the drained tuna and keep stirring with the spoon for about 3 minutes.
Add the tomato sauce, the paprika, the red pepper flakes ( to taste) and a pinch of salt.
Bring to boil then reduce the heat to medium and let simmer until the sauce is thickened ( about 10 minutes, it depends on the amount of sauce you added).
Add the capers, stir to warm up about 1 minute. Turn off the heat. Discard the garlic clove.
When the water is boiling add a fistful ( yes a fistful is the right technical italian measurement for salt when it comes to pasta!) of salt then stir and wait for the water to boil again.
Add the pasta and cook until al dente (follow instructions on the package).
Drain the pasta, shake the excess water away then immediately toss the pasta in the sauce.
Turn the heat back on and toss the pasta for about 3 minutes.
Add the parsley and toss the pasta, reserving some parsley as a garnish.


  1. This sounds extremely yummy. My husband and I both LOVE tuna. I will definitely try this recipe, but will leave out the anchovies and capers. I don't care much for either of them.
    Thanks for sharing all these great recipes.

  2. If you trust me, use the anchovies, they basically melt in the oil and you can't really tell you are there except they give a wonderful fish taste to the pasta. My husband didn't like anchovies too, but I converted him with this!