Pasta Peperonata with Tuna and Olives

spaghetti peperonata with tuna and olives
Photo: Lennart Weibull
Prep Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
50 mins

Cherry tomatoes and a colorful combination of bell, sweet, and banana peppers are teamed with four pantry powerhouses to make a flavorful sauce for spaghetti: jarred tuna, golden raisins, Kalamata olives, and Parmesan cheese.


  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced

  • 1 ½ pounds mild peppers, such as bell, sweet, and banana, stemmed, seeded, and sliced into ¼-inch pieces (4 cups)

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins, chopped

  • ¾ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved

  • 1 basil sprig, plus ⅓ cup fresh leaves, sliced if large

  • 12 ounces spaghetti

  • 1 jar (6 to 7 ounces) tuna in oil, drained and flaked

  • 2 ½ ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (1 cup)

  • 1 finger pepper or other hot pepper, thinly sliced into rounds; or 1 dried hot pepper, such as cayenne, crushed


  1. Heat a large straight-sided skillet or shallow pot over medium. Swirl in oil. Add onion, mild peppers, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have collapsed and are tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, raisins, olives, and basil sprig. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have collapsed and release their juices, and sauce thickens to a stew-like consistency, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove and discard basil.

  2. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a large pot of generously salted boiling water until al dente, about 2 minutes less than package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain. Transfer spaghetti and 1/2 cup pasta water to skillet with sauce and continue cooking, tossing a few times, until sauce thickens slightly and clings evenly to pasta, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add tuna, half of cheese, and finger pepper, tossing until evenly combined. Add more pasta water, a little at a time, until sauce evenly coats pasta again. Stir in basil leaves and serve, topped with remaining cheese and a drizzle of oil.

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