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Penne with Tuna and Red Onion


The combination of tuna, anchovies, capers, garlic, and parsley is traditional in Mediterranean cooking, particularly in southern France.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6

Source: Everyday Food, June 2004


  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne or other short tubular pasta
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 3 anchovy fillets, mashed (optional)
  • 2 cans (6 ounces each) tuna packed in oil, drained
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained


  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions; drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Return pasta to pot.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until onion is very tender and starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Add half-and-half and if using, anchovies; raise heat to high, and boil 2 minutes.

  3. Pour mixture over pasta. Add tuna, parsley, capers, and reserved pasta water; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

Cook's Notes

Anchovy paste, a mixture of anchovies, vinegar, spices, and water, is a mess-free substitute for mashed fillets; use 1 teaspoon of paste for each fillet.

Reviews Add a comment

  • geoarjo
    21 JUL, 2017
    Also the oil amount makes garlic easy to burn
  • geoarjo
    20 JUL, 2017
    not a repeat dish ! It needs more cream and maybe an acid like lemon or wine . Just ok
  • redtex
    28 OCT, 2012
    This was very tasty and simple to throw together on a weeknight. Great with a simple side salad.
  • debra57
    22 DEC, 2008
    I make similar dishes often adding whatever leftovers I have on hand. I usually retain more of the pasta water because my husband likes more sauce. Don't season sauce with salt until finished - pasta water is salted and when it cooks down can make the sauce way too salty, especially with anchovies and tuna.