tuna pasta?

Fancy pasta dishes are for planned dinners, which allow ingredient gathering and unpressurized preparation time. This pasta is for coming home with no lead time and a dinner goal of "as soon as possible," no hassles allowed. It's a one pot meal (actually 2 before they are combined into one) for quasi-vegetarians like dr bob and latent Catholics on the wrong side of Lent season, like ms_ani. It requires having a few standard canned items on hand for just such improvisations, but little else. And it even has great taste. (Like the dr bob cooking team, although we have to confess the "tuna helper sin" committed repeatedly during our early twenty-something phase.)


1 lb fusilli (or penne)
1 onion, minced
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 28oz can Italian style tomatoes (can a tomato have style?)
1 2.2oz can (= 1/3 c) chopped black olives
1-2 T capers
1 6oz can dolphin-safe tuna
salt to taste
cayenne red pepper powder
4 inch squeeze of anchovy paste tube
generous freshly ground black pepper


  1. Start by getting the pasta water going on the stove. It takes a while to get boiling and the fusilli/penne then take their time on their way to al-dentization.
  2. Then do the onion. dr bob does his onion in one of three ways. With the cowbell shaped cheese grater which is very quick but produces excessive onion juice which you must lose before sautéing. Who knows what escapes with the liquid. Or with his super duper veggie dicer (manual food processor, folks), seen at various U.S. home shows but picked up on the street in West Germany when there still was one. Or with increasing affluence, a food processor. This time we went with the dicer. Dry onion sautéed in butter and olive oil. With the two garlic cloves.
  3. Okay, now for the cans. Open the pelati (tomatoes). Open the olives. Open the tuna. Open the capers. Oops, that's from a jar in the fridge. Then dump in the pelati. Dump in the olives. Dump in the tuna. (Into the pan with the onion.) Shovel in a couple of forkfuls of capers. Sprinkle in some salt and red pepper powder for a slight kick. Grind in some black pepper. Uncap the anchovy paste tube and squeeze out about 4 inches into the sauce. Simmer until the pasta is done.
  4. Drain pasta, combine with sauce. Serve.


  1. We hate anchovies. Never have them on our pizza. Yuck. But a little bit in a sauce can add to the taste. Since the word "little" is the key word here, toothpaste tubes of anchovy paste left in the fridge do the job nicely. (Don't mistake it for toothpaste: superyuckies!) We got the idea from an Italian woman's magazine with an accompanying paperback cookbook. Unacceptable to purists of course.
tunapsta.htm: 2-aug-2001 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]