Spaghetti with Tuna (Spaghetti al Tonno)

This is my “go to” recipe for un unplanned but tasty and healthy meal, as all the ingredients have a very long shelf life (so I usually have them available) and it doesn’t matter to leave out some of the ingredients. The only things you really need are spaghetti, a can of tuna, a can of peeled tomatoes, salt and olive oil. The taste will be more complex if you do use all the optional ingredients, but it will still taste fine without them or with just a few of them. Another advantage of this dish is that it takes only about 15 minutes to make.


For 2 servings

150-200 grams (1/3-1/2 pound) spaghetti

1 can peeled tomatoes, chopped (400 grams/14 oz)

1 can tuna (about 125 grams/4 oz net tuna weight)

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped (optional)

1 glass (100 ml) dry white wine (optional)

1 Tbsp capers (sour or salt, rinsed in both cases; optional)

1 Tbsp black olives, chopped (optional)

1 Tbsp fresh flatleaf parsley, chopped (optional)

3 anchovy fillets, chopped (optional)


freshly ground black pepper (optional)


Bring a large pot of salt water to a boil and cook spaghetti al dente according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, sauté the onion in the olive oil over medium-high heat.

After a minute or so, lower the heat and add the anchovy. Keep stirring.

Add the wine when the onion is soft and fragrant.

Add the tomatoes and the olives as soon as most of the wine has evaporated. Cook over medium heat, stirring to let the sauce thicken.

Add the tuna about 1 minute before the spaghetti is ready. Break it up in the can with a fork.

Break it up even more with a wooden spoon in the pan.

Drain the spaghetti and add it to the sauce together with the capers and the parsley. Toss to mix.

Serve at once on warm plates, with freshly ground black pepper if desired. Italians would never eat cheese on this (and neither do I).

Wine pairing

This pairs well with a light to medium-bodied Italian dry white (choices are endless: Gavi, Verdicchio, Soave, etc.) or light dry rosé (also from the Provence).


6 thoughts on “Spaghetti with Tuna (Spaghetti al Tonno)

  1. This was such a popular dish in Europe when I lived overseas and I used to make it a lot. I haven’t made it since coming back to Australia. Thanks for reminding me. I love this! :)…nice blog 🙂


  2. One of the things I really miss from Italy is the good canned tuna that is available everywhere and that makes such a difference in dishes like this one (probably one of the first I learnt to cook). It’s called ventresca in Italian and usually packed in good olive oil. Here I have to go to such great lengths to find it – not to mention the $12.00 price tag!


  3. My youngest’s (the fussy eater) favourite dish! (although not sure about the capers). By the way – are all your posts appearing in the topics listing? I’m noticing some of mine are not appearing and a couple of others are having the same trouble – you may not have noticed but just interested to see how many people are affected.


    1. I liked the old topics listing much better. I’m not sure I understand completely how the new one works yet. I have seen some of my posts for sure, but am not sure if all of them appear.


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