• Campbell Whitman

Pasta al Tonno (quick version)

A few months ago I posted a different Pasta al Tonno recipe that is made with fresh tomatoes instead of a jar or canned tomato product. I had to make a meal quickly and without going to the store, so naturally I found myself in the pantry. When I saw the cans of tuna, anchovies and pasta I knew what to make. But I didn't have enough fresh tomatoes. Lucky one of my kids opened a large jar of tomato purée a few days before and only used a couple scoops from it, so I had a lot to work with and this family favorite sauce got a simplified makeover.

Pasta al Tonno (quick version)

serves 4-6

700 g tomato purée- jar or cans rinsed and added to the pan (about 1 1/2 c in total)

4-5 small leeks

250 g finely chopped black olives

1 tin of anchovies & its oil (about 50 g including both)

100 g fresh spinach finely chopped like herbs

1/4 c tomato paste

3-4 heaping T red pesto

1 1/2 c red wine

3 large garlic cloves pressed

Pepper no salt needed

2 cans of tuna -drained

2-3 T olive oil

1/2 of a lemon zest & juiced

500 g pasta pf choice


in a warm pan on medium or medium-low heat with the olive oil, cook your leeks until they are fully cooked through about 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Once cooked place into a bowl to cool and wait for later.


In the same pan, drop your anchovies and its oil with the pressed garlic, cook on medium heat until the anchovies are almost dissolved. Then, add the tomato paste & red pesto. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly. Add the red wine and stir with a whisk to incorporate with less splashing. Let that simmer for a couple of minutes as the sauce begins to thicken. Then add your tomato purée and continue to whisk until well combined. Let this simmer on low for 15-20 minutes maximum.


Start boiling a large pot of water.


While that is cooking, in a food processor, pulse the spinach until it looks like chopped basil. Add it to the sauce and stir it in well, replace the lid. Again in the food processor pulse the black olives until very fine, like tiny peas. Add the olives and the tuna to the sauce and mix it together well, breaking up the tuna as you go. I find the whisk is again useful here. Set the lid back on to keep it warm.


Once the water is boiling, you do not need to salt it because I find the sauce already pretty salty from the anchovies, olives & tuna. Drop your pasta in, mix it well so it doesn't stick and cook as recommended to al dente. To finalize the sauce, warm it back up (if needed) with the leeks. And, right before serving it, add the lemon zest and juice. Give it one more good stir and serve atop the super hot pasta. It's best to scoop out the pasta with tongs (or a pasta scooper-YES that thing has a purpose other than sitting in your "everything-I-do-not-use-drawer"), which allows a little pasta water to fall into the bowl as you serve it. This keeps the pasta from absorbing the sauce, which dries it out within a few minutes of plating.


Enjoy!