Friday, April 12, 2024


Pasta with Tuna and Olives

During the umpteen times I’ve made this dish, I’ve substituted various kinds of olives and found they all work. I’ve also used all kinds of pasta, and they all work. I’ve left the parsley out if I didn’t have it, or used dried parsley. I always use tuna packed in oil. I usually add more garlic here, but that’s a preference. It’s one of the reasons I love this recipe: anything goes. And we eat it all because it’s terrific. 

Thanks to the New York Times Cooking staff for this recipe. It serves four, and takes about a half hour. 


  • One 6 1/2-ounce can water-packed light (not albacore) tuna, drained
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup fresh tomato sauce or prepared marinara sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley or slivered fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives, such as kalamatas, cut in half
  • 3/4 pound pasta (fusilli, penne, farfalle, spaghetti)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan for serving (optional)

In a large bowl, break up the tuna. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat and add garlic. Cook, stirring, just until fragrant, and remove from heat. Add to the tuna. Add the parsley or basil and mix together.

Add tomato sauce to the same frying pan, heat through, season with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir in the olives.

When pasta water boils, add salt and pasta. Cook al dente, following package info. Remove 2 tablespoons of pasta cooking water and mix with the tuna. 

When the pasta is done, drain and transfer to the bowl with the tuna. Add the tomato sauce with the olives, toss everything together and serve with Parmesan.


  • Bay leaves
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chile powder
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Curry powder
  • Fennel or dill seed
  • Granulated garlic
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground cloves
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground ginger
  • Oregano
  • Paprika: sweet and smoked
  • Rosemary
  • Sesame seeds
  • Thyme
  • Whole nutmeg

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