Not Your Average Tuna Casserole: Spaghetti al Tonno

For me, canned tuna is one of those love-hate foods. All too often it brings back memories of smelly lunch box sandwiches and congealed noodle casseroles. While it is convenient and nutritious (in moderation, due to reportedly high mercury levels), it can also be very dry and rubbery.

At least, this was the case until I discovered oil packed tuna. High quality canned tuna is unlike the fishy, tough cat food that you find in many water packed cans. The meat comes in large, moist flakes and are completely pleasant straight from the can. A few recommended brands are Genova and Progresso, but I find oil packed tuna will taste better than their watery counterparts of any brand.

This is one of the most delicious and simple pastas you can make with pantry ingredients. The lemon and capers cut any residual fishiness from the tuna, as well as adding a salty, zesty freshness to the pasta. The flavours actually come from a classic Sicilian combination as fresh fish, citrus, and capers are native to the region.

The pangrattato on top is a crunchy play on the crisp top of a baked tuna noodle casserole.

If you are still haunted by fishy sandwiches of your childhood, give canned tuna another chance in this delicious pasta. You won't be disappointed.

Spaghetti al Tonno
Serves 6

1 lb dried spaghetti
1 7-oz. can best quality tuna in olive oil, broken into large bite-sized chunks
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 lemon
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
Pangrattato (see recipe below)

Cook pasta until al dente in a large pot of salted water, 8-10 minutes or according to package directions. Meanwhile, cook garlic in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil over low heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add tuna and capers and gently warm through.

Toss drained, unrinsed spaghetti with tuna mixture. Add the juice and zest of a lemon, and several grinds of fresh black pepper.

Top with pangrattato before serving.


1/2 ciabatta bread, preferably stale, cut into chunks
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed

Whiz the bread with a pinch of salt and pepper in a food processor until the mixture looks like bread crumbs. Heat a generous glug of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic cloves and cook for a minute, then fry the bread crumbs in the oil until golden and crisp. Keep shaking the pan - don't let the bread crumbs catch on the bottom. Drain on paper towels, discard garlic and allow the bread crumbs to cool.

Pasta recipe and image property of beetsandbites
Pangrattato recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver

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