Make Ahead

Kitchen-Sink Pasta with Tuna Sauce

October  4, 2022
0 Ratings
  • Serves 4-6
Author Notes

This is one of my go-to pantry meals. The sauce can be prepared as in Steps 1 and 2 and left at that for a sort of rustic feel, or you can go a little further and turn your cooked tuna sauce into tonnato, which can be tossed with pasta and vegetables, or used as a dip (or both--toss some with pasta and/or vegetables, and save the rest for another use). Note: This dish makes excellent leftovers, and it's as good cold as it is hot, especially if you go the tonnato route. —Chris Hagan

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • small handful (4 or 5) spring radishes, trimmed and diced (optional)
  • 1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped, or an equivalent amount of chopped celery
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 6-8 ounces can (or jar) high-quality tuna in olive oil, drained and chopped, oil reserved
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup Italin parsley leaves, finely chopped, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise or aioli
  • 2 tablespoons wine vinegar or lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti or whichever pasta you prefer
  • 1 pound quarted artichoke hearts (frozen or jarred if not preparing fresh; optional)
  • a few handfuls cooked green or wax beans (optional)
  • a few handfuls baby arugula or watercress leaves (optional)
  1. Heat the olive oil and 1 tbsp of the butter in a skillet. Add onions, radishes (if using), and fennel, and saute on medium-low heat until tender and translucent. Mash garlic cloves, anchovies, and a pinch of salt to a paste in a mortar or on a cutting board using the flat side of your knife. Add to the onion-radish-fennel mixture along with the hot pepper flakes and lemon zest and continue sauteing over medium-low, until the anchovies have dissolved, then stir in the tuna, mashing with the back of a wooden spoon to break up large chunks. Raise the heat to high and add the wine. Cook until almost all evaporated, then lower the heat and stir in the capers and the parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining tbsp of butter and remove from heat.
  2. Bring a large pot of generously-salted water to a rolling boil. (It should be salty enough to taste like sea water.) Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving a cup of the pasta water. (You won't need all of it, but just in case.) Return tuna sauce to medium-low heat and toss with pasta, artichokes and/or beans (if using), and some of the pasta water. Remove from heat. Toss with arugula or watercress until just wilted. Garnish with parsley and serve. OR:
  3. Turn your cooked tuna sauce into tonnato: Prepare the sauce as instructed in Step 1. After removing the pan from heat, allow it to cool to room temperature. Get your pasta water going in the meantime. When sauce has cooled, put it in a food processor or blender along with the mayonnaise/aioli, the vinegar or lemon juice, the water, and the reserved tuna oil, and puree until smooth. You may need to adjust the amounts of acid and/or water depending on taste and desired texture. Toss with cooked pasta, pasta water, and artichokes, beans, and greens (if using). Garnish with parsley and serve.

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