Dinner Tonight

The Best Marcella Hazan Pasta Is Actually One You've Never Heard Of

The sauce is no-cook, and the whole dish comes together in 15 minutes.

October 10, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

A few things you should know about me:

  1. I love a pasta trick, whether it pertains to a plating strategy, boiling techniques, or an especially clever sauce idea.
  2. Waiting for dinner to cook after a long day at work makes me irrationally cranky and typically results in such aggressive snacking that I'm no longer hungry.
  3. There's always at least one can of tuna, packed in olive oil, hanging out in my pantry.

So I consider Marcella Hazan's lesser-known brilliant recipe—not that I don't love that other one!—for fettuccine col sugo di tonno con aglio e panna to be something of a trifecta.

If you can stir a few ingredients together, you can make it—in the same time it takes you to boil noodles. The gist is this: Combine minced garlic, parsley, an egg, softened butter, cream, tuna, and Parm in a bowl. Plunge a big handful of fettuccine into a burbling pot of salted water. Pour a glass of wine. Respond to an email, or skim an article you've had earmarked for a week. Transfer the fettuccine to the bowl. Toss. And that's it! (The email bit isn't strictly part of Hazan's recipe, but imagine how pleased you'll be to have a pasta that also diminishes your to-do list.)

In Marcella's Italian Kitchen, Hazan writes, "Canned tuna is a familiar ingredient in pasta sauces. Although I was once very fond of it, there was a harshness to the taste of tuna sauces, both other cooks' and my own, that began to trouble me. It took a long while, as my dissatisfaction grew, for me to identify its cause. At last I knew: Cooking altered tuna's taste."

In her version, she simply doesn't. The residual heat from the cooked noodles is enough to gently bring everything together as you toss, to the tune of whatever song you turned on during that wine interlude. It saves you time, and a dirty saucepan. Which brings me to the last thing you should know about me: I hate to do dishes.

Have you tried this Marcella Hazan recipe? Let us know in the comments!
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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.


Karl August 8, 2023
This 2019 recipe is being re-run in 2023, but should note for the record that 7 ounce cans of tuna are - Costco's excellent Kirkland brand of white tuna (but in water, not oil) aside - rare on ground in the USA and have been so since the Great Downsizing of Tuna cans in the Great Recession from 7 to 5 ounces (even smaller since) which also affected quality has it meant smaller pieces. I believe Genova still produces yellowfin tuna in oil in 7 ounce cans (at least Amazon appears to offer them), but it might be hard to find on market shelves.
Betsy C. October 11, 2023
I've been buying the Genova yellowfin in olive oil from Amazon for a few years now.....I love it
C November 11, 2019
If you’re worried about the eggs use the pasturized ones in the carton.
Catherine October 14, 2019
Thoughts on doing a couple egg yolks instead of the whole egg? I'm not a fan of the white in pasta dishes, even if it's whisked together.
Ella Q. October 16, 2019

I think that'd definitely work! Let me know if you try it.
karen October 12, 2019
Anyone else worried about the raw egg? Not sure the residual heat from the noodles will cook it properly to avoid food poisoning.
Smaug October 12, 2019
Well, maybe a little but raw, unbroken eggs are actual pretty safe. People have survived egg nog, cookie dough etc. for a long time. I'd be more inclined to worry about the raw garlic.
karen October 12, 2019
Commercial egg nog is usually pasteurized and homemade is usually served with a bunch of alcohol. I don't eat cookie dough. Still not convinced.
Smaug October 12, 2019
Maybe you don't but many do- I don't eat a lot of raw eggs either, but dishes like those I mentioned, key lime pie, various "health" drinks and salad dressings etc. have a long tradition. Keep in mind that an egg is intended as an environment for an embryo to grow up in- the interior is quite sterile and difficult to contaminate. But if it makes you nervous, you can certainly get by without this recipe.
Smaug October 12, 2019
Not to mention the ubiquitous mayonnaise.
Connie B. November 10, 2019
And that most divine sauce ever, in my opinion, hollandaise!
Connie B. November 10, 2019
And that most divine of all sauces, in my opinion, hollandaise!!
Smaug October 11, 2019
I wonder how the fish available to Hazan- probably Mediterranean tunny fish, compares to the canned tuna available here. By reputation, it is a finer flavor and texture.
Barb M. August 7, 2023
Try Tonnino tuna in a jar! Least expensive at Amazon, but also available at Whole Foods, Randall's/Safeway and I’m sure others. It is excellent!
KarenSiena August 7, 2023
Tonnino is the best tuna ever. Worth the $$.
Elaine S. October 10, 2019
Isn’t there a sentence or phrase missing? I agree with previous commenter. The instruction “toss”
needs to say what you toss...
Ella Q. October 10, 2019
Hi Elaine,

You toss the fettuccine you've just added to the bowl with the sauce ingredients you've already mixed together in the bowl. I hope this helps!

cfelten October 10, 2019
And then toss in the tuna at the last, I assume? 😀
Elizabethdx October 10, 2019
@Elaine and @cfelton, there’s a recipe as well as the condensed version. It spells out every step.