Pasta With Tuna, Tomatoes and Capers

This is the second pasta sauce I learned how to cook when I moved to Italy in 1999. The first being a simple and basic tomato sauce.  I found this recipe in one of my mother-in-law's old recipe books dating back in the 1970's. It uses canned tuna as opposed to fresh ones and for that reason eversince I tried it the first time, it gained a permanent spot on our table. Kids and adults love it so when I have to do something quick with my family and friends that assures me of its success, I take out the ingredients of this pasta (which I always have) from the pantry and cook away.

You will be needing canned tuna preserved in oil (better in olive oil) not brine, the tastiest preserved tomatoes you have, garlic, capers and parsley. If you feel like adding a bit of green olives, you can also add a little bit. At home, my kids prefer without but sometimes I add a few. Even if the sauce can go with whatever kind of pasta, short or long, I still prefer it with spaghetti. Penne can work too especially when you have to serve it to kids who have a hard time twirling the spaghetti with their forks.

Everyone who has tried this pasta only had one thing to say. Delicious! So when you don't know what to cook that's genuinely Italian, make this one. You won't get crazy looking for the ingredients because they are actually very easy to find. I have prepared this for friends in Germany, France and the Philippines and it has been replicated over and over again by friends who have tried it. One little detail that will make a big difference is not to use tuna in brine because the tuna tends to taste more fishy than usual.

Buon appetito!

Spaghetti With Tuna, Tomatoes and Capers

Serves 4
  • 1 can of 425 grams tomatoes (any kind will do)
  • 240 grams canned or bottled tuna in olive oil, drained
  • handful of parsley, chopped finely
  • 20 grams capers soaked in vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or halved
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 400 grams pasta, any kind
  • 1 cup water
  1. Drain the tuna. Transfer to a small bowl or plate. Crush with a fork. Set aside.
  2. Drain the capers. To take away a little bit of the acidity of the vinegar, take a handful & let the tap water pass through them for a few seconds. Then squeeze the capers with your hands. Set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, sautè the garlic. When it turns golden,  add the tuna. Toast the tuna for about 10 minutes, moving constantly to avoid burning.
  4. Add the tomatoes. When you empty the can, fill it up with a cup of water.  Swirl the water inside the can to get the remaining tomato sauce. Add to the saucepan. Cook on low-medium fire for about 20 minutes or until it's not watery anymore.  
  5. Add the capers & half of the parsley. Season with salt & pepper
  6. Meantime, while waiting for the sauce to cook, boil some water in a pot for the pasta. When it boils, add some salt then toss in the pasta. Cook according to the number of minutes suggested in the package or until al dente.
  7. Mix the sauce with pasta in the saucepan. Mix well.  
  8. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.