Barca Tuna sauce

February 28, 2012
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Makes a whole pot
Author Notes

Though I love planning holidays, I still forget things to pack. This time, I remembered the salt, sugar, tomato ketchup, my homemade pancake mix – a blend of flour, ground oats, bran, cinnamon and maple flakes, orange tea and hagelslag. I forgot the rice, the pasta, noodles and everything else in between. We arrived Barcelona hungry and I berated myself.

Right across from our holiday apartment, there is a store. We go in and I head for the carbohydrate aisle, past the beans and rice and straight for the quick cook pasta. J picks up a pack of broken spaghettini and I make that two. Once we know what dinner is made off, we think about the sauce. We spot some sardines, in search of corned beef and tuna. I grab a tin of aceituna neguila – black olives, a bottle of smooth tomato sauce, a jar of preserved red piquillo peppers, 2 onion bulbs, some garlic, vegetable oil, bacon bits and Leon’s chorizo. French bread, regular bread, eggs and milk; cans of coca cola, fanta and a large bottle of agua later, we’re done. Ready to make our first family dinner in Spain.

Back in the kitchen, I bang pots about and the end result is something like this - a delicious sauce that has us hankering for more - every single one of us! Fingers are licked. Plates wiped clean and a personal reminder to myself - pack right. —Kitchen Butterfly

Test Kitchen Notes

This is a quick, smart, and surprisingly complex Spanish pantry sauce that would do any pound of pasta very proud. If you're like me and embrace the chicken of the sea, then you'll want to increase the tuna by another can and maybe even throw in a few anchovies when you're sizzling your tuna oil. It's spicey and rich and the bacon and tomato combo is, as you would expect, delectable. —favabean

What You'll Need
  • 1 medium sized onion, peeled and chopped
  • 125 g bacon bits (or more to taste)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 100g chorizo, chopped
  • 200g piquillo (roasted red pepper) strips or roasted red peppers, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 800g smooth tomato sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Pepperoncini Mancinati or cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano or mixed Greek herbs
  • To serve, fresh & crusty bread for dipping, sliced black olives, freshly cooked spaghettini and torn basil leaves
  • 2 '170g' tins of Tuna in olive/sunflower oil
  1. Set out a heavy bottomed saucepan and add 2 tablespoons of the tuna oil from the tin to the pan. Let heat up gently on low - medium heat. Add the onions, a pinch of salt and sweat for about 4 - 5 minutes, stirring till softened. Add the bacon bits, stirring all the while. After 2 -3 minutes, add the garlic slices and let cook for a minute.
  2. Into the pan, add the chopped chorizo and piquillo strips. Stir for a few minutes and then add the tomato sauce, tuna flakes and dried herbs. Season to taste and stir well. Set to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring and ensuring the bits at the bottom are moved about.
  3. Adjust seasoning and your 'hot' sauce is ready. Enjoy.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • SKK
  • Kitchen Butterfly
    Kitchen Butterfly
  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin
  • Sherri Simko
    Sherri Simko
I love food and I'm interested in making space for little-heard voices, as well as celebrating Nigerian cuisine in its entirety.

6 Reviews

Sherri S. April 23, 2023
I have been saving this recipe to try and it is a keeper. It does make a heafty serving size pasta - easily can feed 6. I had 8 oz of tomato sauce and 28 oz of chopped tomatoes and it was just fine. The sauce still got a little thick and thinned it a little with pasta water.
SKK March 20, 2012
Dear KB - made this recipe for dinner and we all LOVE it. The flavors are complex, rich and satisfying. Amazing given how little time it takes to make this. Would never have thought to use the ingredients the way you did for the flavors.

In this recipe we tasted the flavors of Africa - smoky, rich, multi-layered. I know we were supposed to taste Spain, but this dish seems to be much richer.

So grateful that this was on the main page or I may not have found it.

Also, thank you for keeping on posting even through the site bugs.
Kitchen B. March 21, 2012
Wow. Can life get any better. SKK, you've just made my day with your heartwarming comments. And you've actually defined Nigerian (African) cuisine perfectly, with words I've always sought but not quite had - and now I think of it, we use similar ingredients in Nigerian cuisine, in much the same way as the Spanairds do and this is what I LOVE so much about food - how we are all linked, all connected, all bound to something that sustains! I'm glad you enjoyed it - thank you
SKK March 21, 2012
My thanks to you, and you are so welcome. Because of my work I have had the privilege of spending time in six African countries, including Nigeria. The foods are my favorite. And I love your recipes because they make the tastes available!
Kitchen B. February 29, 2012
Thanks. Its annoying...when I post recipes because the first time, even if I put all the ingredients on the list some bug stops the complete list from publishing! Thanks for letting me know. Appreciate it!
LeBec F. February 28, 2012
well there you are again you talented papillon! sounds deicious! but you forgot to include the tuna in your ingredients and directions? you can still edit until they go into the kitchen testing phase.