Spaghetti with Tomato Tuna Sauce

Spaghetti with Tomato Tuna Sauce

Say hello to Italian canned tuna in olive oil and goodbye to dry, mealy canned tuna that needs mayo and mix-ins to pass for a meal. I’ve been on a quest to learn authentic Italian cuisine this year. How has it taken me this long to make pasta, the epitome of Italian cooking? Well, because making pasta like the Italians is hard.

Tomato Tuna Sauce

Well…actually…making pasta like the Italians is easy, but I want to complicate it. Take this pasta for instance. I thought about adding capers and olives, maybe artichokes or topping with homemade bread crumbs but in the end I left it simple. The tuna is meaty, flaky and paired perfectly with the sweet tomato sauce. It doesn’t need anything else. Serve with a salad and you have a complete meal.

I originally made this to serve over homemade pasta. See this post for instructions but this is great over spaghetti as well. Different but still good.  Let’s quickly talk about perfect pasta preparation. This goes for fresh or homemade noodles. It is all about finishing the noodles in the sauce and getting the two to meld together.

Tuna and Tomato Pasta

  • Servings: 4-6 people
  • Time: 30mins
Tomato Tuna Sauce


  • 6 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 anchovies* (optional)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 28 oz can Italian peeled whole tomatoes
  • 2 6-7 oz cans oil packed tuna
  • 1 1/2 lbs fresh pasta (see recipe for pici here) or 12 oz dried pasta
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP grated parmesan (optional)
  • chopped parsley


To prepare the sauce, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir continuously until the garlic becomes golden in color. Remove the garlic from the pan with a spoon. Don’t worry about getting it all or even omit this step if you are in a hurry to eat! Add the anchovies and stir until disintegrated then add the onion and sauté 5-7 minutes until translucent in color. Next add the tomatoes and cook ~10 minutes breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon. Stir in the tuna for the last 2-3 minutes.

Make sure the sauce is hot and ready while you boil noodles. Place your serving bowl next to the stove in a warm spot or in the oven so it will be hot and ready. Drain noodles, reserving some of the pasta water. Transfer the noodles to the pan when they are slightly below al dente. This is usually 2-4 minutes before the designated time on the box.

Stir the noodles into the sauce and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes, adding the reserved pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Finish the pasta over heat by stirring in butter and parmesan if using.  Twirl into a warm bowl, top with parsley and serve immediately. Pasta is best when eaten piping hot.

*I keep my anchovies layered in olive oil in the freezer

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