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Tuna Tomato Pasta


Keep a few staples in your pantry to make dinner on nights when you're not going to get to the grocery store. From the book "Mad Hungry," by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Artisan Books).

  • Servings: 6

Source: Mad Hungry, October 2010


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish
  • 3 cans tuna, well drained
  • 2 cans crushed tomatoes, with juice
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, thyme, or rosemary
  • 1 pound penne or fusilli pasta


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.

  2. Heat a medium saucepan and add the olive oil, swirling to coat the pan. Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes. Add the tuna and stir, being careful not to break up the chunks too much.

  3. Stir in the tomatoes, season with salt and black pepper, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Add the chopped herbs a few minutes before serving.

  4. While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta, drain, and toss with the sauce. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and an extra sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

Cook's Notes

If you've got fresh garlic on hand, whack the clove with the heel of your hand or the side of a knife to slightly flatten it and the peel will slip right off.

Reviews Add a comment

  • vwe1
    4 JUL, 2017
    Very close to Nonna's recipe. This is an old Italian dish. You can really use any marinara sauce you have on hand and add everything else. She never added oregano though. Actually, she never used oregano at all. She used more bay leaf which she added to both her sauce and chicken soup. Also, she and we always use the tonno in olive oil--just be sure to use the oil the tuna comes in. This has always been a family favorite. I like to add black olives if I have them as r2doggies did below, but the white beans sound like a delicious addition.
  • Glenny Lee
    11 JUN, 2013
    I use 3-4 cloves in the sauce instead of the fresh herbs. Make sure you remember how many cloves you put into the sauce so you can remove them all before serving the pasta. :)
  • memszy
    22 JAN, 2011
    Concerning the size of the tomato cans used, it looks like she's using two 28 oz cans. You can tell they're bigger than the 14.5oz size. Just my opinion.
  • misseden
    8 DEC, 2010
    To add to the "pantry", I discovered that I was out of any type of noodles. I put this recipe over jasmine rice! It was just as delicious!
  • r2doggies
    6 DEC, 2010
    I've cooked a version of this recipe for years. I add 2-14.5oz. cans of tomatoes. Also, I add capers and/or black olives and 1 can of white beans. Delicious!
  • mountain456
    30 OCT, 2010
    Does anyone know what size the cans of tomatoes are supposed to be?
  • zie
    27 OCT, 2010
    Thanks for recipe that gives us something other than a casserole to make with tuna. I have to say it wasn't mine nor my family's favorite. Sorry.