This recipe is an adaptation of Lynne Rossetto Caspar's Friday Night Spaghetti from her cookbook, "Italian Country Cooking." It is such a fun dish because, aside from being incredibly simple to make, it has all sorts of intensely flavored pantry ingredients in it. If you like the salty and pungent flavors of tuna, olives and anchovies, you will love this pasta. I prefer kalamata olives but you can use any type of black or green olive you like. Despite the use of pasta cooking water to create a sauce, this remains a fairly dry pasta dish. The flavors are strong so serve it with something mellow such as bruschetta with fresh mozzarella or white beans with sage.
Bruschetta topped with Fresh Mozzarella, Grilled Zucchini and Basil
Pasta with Tuna and Olives
Sauteed Greens or Broccoli


1 pound spaghetti or other pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 anchovies, minced
1/4 cup italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 6 ounce cans of tuna packed in oil, lightly drained
1/2 cup coarsely chopped kalamata olives
1 tablespoon capers

Cooking Instructions

Bring 4 quarts of well-salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain thoroughly, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Set the pasta aside in a warm place.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add the onion and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes until the onion is softened. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and anchovies and cook for another minute. Add about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and continue to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the parsley and tomato paste and stir to dissolve the tomato paste. Add another 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Cover and simmer the sauce for about 5 minutes to allow the flavors to develop, adding more pasta cooking water if it becomes too dry.

Remove the tuna from the can and break apart into bite-sized pieces. Add the tuna, olives, and capers to the sauce along with the pasta and enough of the pasta cooking water to allow the sauce to coat the noodles but without being too watery. Stir to reheat the pasta and coat it evenly in the sauce. Season with salt if necessary. Serve garnished with additional chopped parsley.

Makes 4 servings



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elliemay's blog

Using the pasta cooking water as in this recipe serves several purposes. The salted pasta water helps to add more flavor to the dish and the starch in the water leftover from the pasta helps to thicken the sauce and allows it to stick to the noodles. It also keeps the dish from being to dry. I use this trick often when making pasta.

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