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pasta with tuna recipe

Spicy Chili and Tuna Pasta

This tuna pasta recipe is easy, yet my pride and joy so far… please enjoy it!
5 from 16 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 portions
Calories 376 kcal


  • 240 g dry uncooked pasta I used mezze penne
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 150 g finely sliced red onion
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes or as liked
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper powder or as liked
  • 6 anchovies ideally in olive oil
  • 1 tin tuna in water drained weight 100g/ 3.5 oz
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry parsley
  • 700 g tomato passata
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar only needed if the tomato sauce is very acidic
  • Water as needed
  • Salt to taste


  • Drain the tuna, chop the anchovies, and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, put a large frying pan on the fire and warm up the olive oil; once this is warm add to it the onion, garlic, and a bit of salt, mix well, cover the pan and lower the flame to minimum.
  • Once the onion becomes transparent and soft (on a low flame it should take about 5-7 minutes) add the anchovies, and turn the heat to medium; once the anchovies are lightly fried (1-2 minutes) add the tuna, chili flakes and black pepper and mix well.
  • Once the tuna changes color, add the tomato paste and parsley to the pan and fry well; then, add the tomato passata, the granulated sugar (if required), and 1 cup of water. Mix well, cover with the lid, and put on low flame again until the tomato sauce is fully cooked. I like to simmer mine very gently for at least 15-20 minutes.
  • While the sauce is cooking, bring a pan of water to a boil and cook the pasta.
  • Once the pasta and the sauce are ready, drain the pasta (do not over-drain it!) and add it to the sauce pan with the sauce. Mix it well through and through while on a low flame for about a minute.
  • The best part of the recipe: serve and enjoy!


Notes on the recipe:
The sugar is optional; adding this will help if you find your tomato passata or sauce to be too acidic. You will notice that certain brands will need it and others won't. 
As usual, if you have fresh parsley instead of dry, go for it! I buy fresh bunches only when I know I will use them soon, but as here these are sold very large, this doesn’t happen as often as I’d like.
Be mindful of the salt you use! Anchovies are quite salty, so it is better to put very little to start with and add at the end if needed… and no, the sugar won’t make it sweet, the quantity is very little!
If you do not like or have anchovies, you can eliminate them completely or replace them with some black or green olives (either color will work taste-wise) or a few capers… I personally find anchovies add a certain level of flavor to this simple - yet unique - recipe!
Just like the anchovies, if you’re not in for a spicy ride, you can eliminate the crushed chili flakes completely, or, to the opposite, you can increase the fire! It’s all about taste and preference and how hot you want this spicy pasta recipe!
For this recipe I use passata, but sometimes I like to mix it up and use some nice chunky chopped tomato to add a different texture to the meal; in that case, I normally use two full tins of 400g each (14 oz each).
Like I always like to add, if you amend any parts of the recipe and you are counting calories, please recalculate your totals for the meal!


Calories: 376kcalCarbohydrates: 66gProtein: 21gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 201mgPotassium: 1109mgFiber: 6gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 1057IUVitamin C: 23mgCalcium: 75mgIron: 5mg
Keyword 30-Minute Meal, Healthy Meal, pasta with tuna, tuna pasta, tuna sauce for pasta
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