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Mediterranean Tuna and Pasta

This simple, Mediterranean-style dish comes together in no time — summer in a bowl from pantry ingredients!

July 24, 2017

If you have a can of tuna in your cupboard, dinner is halfway done already. This simple, Mediterranean-style dish comes together in no time — summer in a bowl from pantry ingredients!

Serves three to four people. 


  • One 6- to 7-ounce can high-quality tuna in oil, drained (we get ours at our local farmers market)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons mashed anchovies
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (fresh if you have ripe tomatoes from your garden), or your favorite marinara sauce
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnish
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise
  • 3/4 pound short pasta, such as fusilli or penne
  • Freshly grated Parmesan for garnish (optional)


Heat a large pot of water for the pasta. When it comes to a boil, add a generous sprinkling of salt and add your pasta. Cook to al dente, according to package directions.

While the pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, just until garlic is fragrant, and remove from the heat. Add the tuna. Add the parsley or basil, and mix together, still off the heat. As the tuna heats up it will be easy to break into pieces.
When the pasta is almost done, return pan to medium heat, add tomato sauce, heat through and season to taste with salt and add pepper. Stir in the sliced olives.

Drain cooked pasta, reserving about 1/4 cup to add to the sauce mixture. Add pasta to the sauce, toss together to mix, and add pasta water as needed to achieve desired consistency. Serve, topped with extra basil and Parmesan, if desired. Add a crisp green salad, crusty bread and a glass of red wine for a perfect anytime meal.


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I just happen to have some homemade tomato sauce that I was wondering what to do with.  And the only thing lacking in my pantry is the anchovies.  I'm making this for dinner!

This is a great dish. Most Mediterraneans would find it bizarre to drain the tuna. They would drizzle olive oil over the pasta as well, & normally would not add cheese. Thanks for publishing this recipe!