Marcella Hazan's Fettuccine col Sugo di Tonno con Aglio e Panna

October  9, 2019
15 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 12 minutes
  • Serves about 4
Author Notes

From Marcella's Italian Kitchen: "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. I looked for other ways to make a sauce that did not require cooking the tuna. The one that pleased me most is derived from the buttery sauce described [elsewhere in Marcella's Italian Kitchen]...I added garlic, egg, parsley, cream, and Parmesan, mixing everything by hand rather than in a processor to obtain a grainier, more interesting texture." —Food52

Test Kitchen Notes

Excerpted from Marcella’s Italian Kitchen by Marcella Hazan. Copyright © 1995 by Marcella Hazan. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 (7-ounce) can of Italian-style tuna packed in olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic chopped very fine
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • Salt
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan), plus additional for the table
  • Fettuccine (Marcella calls for homemade, we use 3/4 lb boxed dried fettuccine)
  1. Drain the tuna of all its oil and put it in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the garlic, parsley, egg, butter, cream, salt, liberal grindings of pepper, and the 1/2 cup of grated cheese. Mix well until all the ingredients are thoroughly amalgamated, using a fork to break up and mash the tuna. Taste and correct for salt and pepper.
  3. Drop the pasta into a pot of abundant boiling salted water and cook until it is done but firm to the bite, drain, and toss immediately with the tuna mixture. Serve at once, with additional grated cheese available on the side.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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  • noisette
  • Ashley Taylor
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    Jackie De Sordi

21 Reviews

Dani January 28, 2023
Made this for dinner tonight and really enjoyed it. Lots of flavour and comes together pretty quickly. I added great beans for more veg. Left out the rosemary, not a fan. Added a couple of bay leaves. Some nice fresh rye bread and dinner was pure comfort. Will put this on rotation. Thanks 😁
Leendaz July 28, 2023
No rosemary called for... same recipe?
panania September 19, 2022
This was really good. I have a hard time finding fettucine in my area (don't know why), so I used 2 flats of nests. That made a little more than a pound, but it was still very good. The issue I did have was the Italian tuna. There was some bone in it. I'm going to try it again, but this time with a high quality American tuna (like American Tuna!) I'll report back afterwards and let you all know how it went.
bonnie April 9, 2022
This was so good. Since I was using a whole pound of pasta I used more tuna. I pulled the pasta from the pot when it was done and add it to the sauce, then added more pasta water so that it got really creamy. I will definitely make this again.
peppersandeggs September 6, 2021
I've been making this dish for many years but it's a lot of pasta for just my husband and me.
Has anyone had success halving the recipe?
noisette March 26, 2021
This was excellent - at least, the pasta I made based on the recipe is excellent (I was trying to use up stuff I had on hand and remembered seeing this recipe a while ago). I didn't have parsley, and I added some ground red chilli and some lemon juice at the end - neither came through very strongly, but it tastes very good. I also only added 1/2 cup cream because I'm saving the rest for chocolate mousse, so I saved about a cup of pasta water and added it while tossing. Will make again!
noisette March 26, 2021
Forgot to say that I returned the drained pasta to the pot and added frozen peas with the butter, then tossed in the rest of the sauce with pasta water.
Ashley T. October 17, 2019
Whether you liked tuna casserole or hated it, this is a superior, grown up take. I used De Cecco bucatini, garlic powder (didn't have any fresh garlic at home), and halved the butter in favor of leaving the olive oil in with the tuna. I also left about a quarter cup of the starchy pasta water in with the pasta and briefly heated the combined pasta/tuna sauce mixture over low heat until the sauce thickened a little bit. Very, very good.
Sheila October 15, 2019
I made this with homemade fettuccine and it was just divine. This goes on my short list of quick but indulgent pantry pastas!
cfelten October 13, 2019
I made this for dinner tonight and thought it was utterly delicious. I had only water packed tuna and farfalle but will make it again when I have oil packed tuna and fettuccine because Marcella knows what's she's doing. Bonus - this dish came together in the time it took to boil 4 qt of water and cook the pasta. Would it be heresy to throw in a few capers......?
Brian November 8, 2019
show off!
Brian October 13, 2019
I made this, followed the recipe quite closely, and have to admit I was a little disappointed. It wasn't terrible, but . . . . Maybe my technique is lacking, and maybe it's because the recipe violates what I thought was one of the mandates of Italian cooking; no cheese on fish.
peppersandeggs September 6, 2021
Sometime ago Marcella addressed the cheese fish question on facebook.
Marcella, can you answer the age-old question as to why Italians do not put cheese on pasta with fish? (or on any fish for that matter!)

Marcella answered:

When it comes to flavor, consensus over time is the foundation supporting traditional predilections. In those preparations where seafood is cooked or marinated in olive oil – linguine with clams, grilled whole fish – the texture and flavor of Parmesan cheese are incongruous. How do you explain incongruity? You either get it or you don’t. This not an absolute prohibition, however. In Venice, where we sometimes cook seafood in butter, a light dose of Parmesan cheese is acceptable. And even in some strongly flavored dishes based on olive oil, cheese may find a place, but only Romano, not Parmigiano.
Tanya M. September 9, 2023
Thank you. I logged on to the comments to see if this would be addressed and you just did! Grazie
Jackie D. October 11, 2019
Hi, Marcella. I'm curious. Where are you from? I really dig your recipes, find them very connected to my way of cooking and the way I think out recipes for my family. I cook mediterranean style as I see you do also. Healthy good food. I live in the northern part of Italy, Veneto region. Great way to make ''tagliatelle''. Thumbs up!
whatever October 11, 2019
You're a little late, but enjoy:
Jackie D. October 12, 2019
I am utterly shocked at my ignorance. Please excuse me. Reading that article illuminated me. Very humbly sorry for being so unaware.
Brian October 12, 2019
Don't feel bad. Instead, investigate her other recipes. Another good one is her simple recipe for pasta pomodoro.
whatever October 12, 2019
Exactly. You might also consider getting "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking." Lots to love in there.
Marisa F. November 8, 2019
Don't apologize -- it's simply wonderful finding another person who appreciates the genius of Marcella. Her recipes are fantastic. You're going on a great culinary journey just trying her recipes.
Andrea August 13, 2021
What a delight that you discovered Marcella. Oh, and ever apologize for learning something new. 😊 Her cookbooks are so worth it.