This spicy tuna anchovy pasta is absolutely delicious, full of garlic, red chili flakes, anchovies, olives, tomatoes and tuna. It’s jam packed with flavor, and comes together in 20 minutes. Adding tuna to pasta sauce is a game changer!
What is tuna anchovy pasta?
It’s basically a take on pasta puttanesca- an Italian pasta dish made with olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, caper and tuna with a kick of heat. Long thin noodles like linguine or pasta are tossed in this sauce for the ultimate tuna pasta dish.
Why should I make this dish?
This tuna anchovy pasta was born out of hunger, what I had in my pantry, and limited time. It comes together in 20 minutes and is utterly comforting and fitting.
It’s a healthy dish, especially if you use whole wheat pasta like I did, with just a a handful of really good ingredients.
The umami flavor from the anchovies and olives really deepen the flavor of this dish. However, it’s totally customizable to whatever you have on hand!
It’s a totally different pasta dish then you’ve probably ever tried, but its a great one to push your boundaries with. Utterly delicious!
What ingredients do I need to make tuna anchovy pasta?
Pasta of choice: I’d recommend long thin noodles, like spaghetti, linguine, or even angel hair pasta, but you can use anything. I used whole wheat here! If you are gluten free, you can definitely use the gluten free pasta of your choice.
Olive Oil: Always use the best olive oil you have when making pasta!
Garlic Cloves: I like to have plenty of garlic, thinly sliced. They give such wonderful flavor to the sauce.
Anchovies: (jarred or canned): Now, you can completely leave these out if you’re a little worried, but I highly recommend you give them a chance! They’ll give this lovely salty, briney, umami sort of flavor as an undertone to the tomato sauce.
Chili Flakes: You can add more or less to your taste
Black olives: A lot of recipes traditionally use kalamata olives, but I like the simplicity and less intense flavor of regular sliced black olives
Capers: What you find in a jar.
Canned tomatoes: You can use any type of canned tomatoes you prefer, whether that’s diced, whole, or crushed. I chose to use whole tomatoes, that I gently break up as the sauce simmers.
Tuna: If it’s tuna in water, drain the water before adding the tuna. If it’s tuna in oil, you can add the whole thing, oil and all.
Dried basil, dried oregano, salt and pepper: The dry herbs and spices that round out the flavor of the sauce.
Steps to making tuna puttanesca pasta:
- Start off by cooking the pasta of your choice, according to package instructions. When pasta has cooked al dente, drain, but reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water.
- Saute garlic, anchovies, and chili flakes in a little olive oil over medium heat for a minute. Add the olives and capers and continue to saute for another 2 minutes.
- Add the canned tomatoes and lower heat to simmer for 5-7 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to sort of break up the tomatoes as they cook.
- Add the tuna, and all the spices. Taste for seasoning and adjust, then add the cooked pasta and toss to combine with the sauce along with a splash of pasta water.
How to cook the pasta perfectly:
The cooking time will depend on the type of pasta, but as a rule of thumb, you’ll cook at the lower range of the cooking time or even 1-2 minutes less than package instructions. This is because you’ll be adding the pasta back to the sauce on the stovetop which will cook it a little further.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, you don’t need to add any oil to the pot. Actually, adding oil will make it more difficult for the sauce to stick to the pasta noodles.
The best pasta has a bit of a bite, so you don’t want to overcook it. Don’t fight the texture you get from having a little chew in your noodles!
Preparing the pasta and sauce in advance:
You can cook the pasta a day or two in advance, and storing it tightly covered in the fridge until ready to finish the dish. If doing this, I recommend also storing a little bit of pasta water in a tightly sealed cup or container in the fridge so you can use it to loosen the cold pasta once it’s being reheated.
You can also make the sauce a day in advance. To finish assembling the dish, heat the pasta sauce in a large skillet over low heat, then add the pasta noodles and pasta sauce and toss to combine.
Yes you can. Try adding an extra tablespoon of capers to compensate for the loss of salty brininess.
Use the pasta that you prefer, it’ll taste great with any type, including gluten free pasta.
If they can handle the heat, then yes they’ll enjoy this. Otherwise, reduce or eliminate the red chili flakes and just serve some on the side for the adults who want the spice.
What to serve spicy tuna pasta with:
I’d recommend a nice piece of bread to soak up all that delicious sauce.
You can also serve with a simple green side salad!
Storing leftover puttanesca pasta:
Leftovers will last tightly covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, either microwave or gently warm in a skillet.
The pasta sauce can be frozen, tightly covered for up to 3 months, and thawed overnight. To reheat, gently warm on the stovetop.
If you liked this recipe, you might like:
Tuna Anchovy Pasta
- 8 oz pasta like spaghetti or linguine 240 g
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 7-8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 4-5 anchovies from a jar, finely diced
- 1/8 teaspoon red chilli flakes
- 1/4 cup sliced black olives, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoon capers
- 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes or crushed tomatoes 800 g
- 1 can white tuna 5 oz, 140g
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt more to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to package instructions until al dente. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Set both the pasta and pasta water aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the sliced garlic, diced anchovies, and red chili flakes, and saute for a minute or two until garlic softens and starts to turn a light golden brown.
- Add the olives and capers, and stir, sauteeing for another 2 minutes.
- Add the canned tomatoes, juices and all. If using canned whole tomatoes, break them up with a wooden spoon while stirring. Lower heat slightly, and simmer uncovered for 5-7 minutes until sauce starts to thicken.
- Add the drained canned tuna, breaking up into flakes, along with the dried basil, dried oregano, salt, and some freshly ground black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Add the cooked pasta, and a splash of pasta water to loosen, about 1/3-1/2 cup. Stir to toss the pasta well in the sauce, and enjoy immediately. Optionally, top with extra red chili flakes before serving and some freshly grated parmesan cheese.