Spaghetti Peperonata with tuna and olives is a rustic Italian style pasta that’s easy to throw together on a weeknight. It’s an inexpensive, healthy 30 minute meal with that casual Mediterranean ‘let’s set up dinner in the vineyard tonight’ vibe. Not bad for a box of pasta, some fresh peppers, and a can of tuna!
pasta peperonata with tuna and olives is a quick and easy from-the-pantry-meal.
This authentic peperonata recipe combines always available pantry ingredients with a burst of fresh peppers and tomatoes. It’s hard to believe that spaghetti with canned tuna and olives can be so fresh and vibrant. (Spoiler alert: it’s the peppers!)
I found my inspiration while flipping through Martha Stewart Living in bed the other night. When I came across this spaghetti peperonata with tuna and olives I ripped out the page, set it aside, and went to sleep, happily dreaming about how to make it my own for the next night’s dinner.
ingredients for pasta peperonata
The Italians are masters at combining a little bit of this and a little bit of that into a simple masterpiece. They respect their ingredients ~ every one is top notch and earns its spot in the recipe. Good quality evoo and fresh garlic are a given. With this cast of characters you can’t mess it up.
- good quality canned tuna, I like to buy the Italian kind, packed in olive oil
- thin spaghetti ~ I prefer thin because it’s lighter. Be sure to cook it just to the al dente stage, which usually means a couple of minutes shy of what the package says. It should have a nice ‘chew’.
- fresh bell peppers, the more colorful the better.
- fresh basil. I love to buy the living plants from my supermarket, they last and last.
- glossy black olives (check out your supermarket’s olive bar for the freshest.)
- Parmesan cheese, and remember, it isn’t true Parmesan unless it’s marked Parmigiano Reggiano.
how to pit olives like an Italian ~
Fresh olives from an olive bar are so much better than jarred or canned. And olives with pits have better flavor and texture than those that have been pre-pitted. But how do you get those darned pits out? I like to smash the olive with the side of a chef’s knife, just like you do when you are peeling a clove of garlic ~ check out the video in the recipe card to see me do it.
I’m a believer in the power of peppers ~ my crisper drawer is packed with them at all times.
I admit, I shop with my eyes and I’ll collect as many different colors as I can, I simply can’t walk by a pile of colorful peppers, whether it’s at the farmers market or in the produce aisle. I’m not afraid of a little heat, either, so anything goes (I like the surprise factor!) The result, in a meal like this, is a nice blend of peppery flavors ranging from very sweet to earthy, to hot and spicy.
Tip: add a few hot peppers into the mix, a jalapeño, Serrano, or even a few red chile flakes makes this pasta peperonata pop!
The little kick of heat makes a big difference and balances out the sweetness of the bell peppers.
more Italian pasta
- Shrimp Scampi Fra Diavolo
- Chicken Margherita Pasta
- Sicilian Pasta with Almonds and Anchovies
- Pasta Alla Norma
- Spaghetti con Pignoli
Spaghetti Peperonata with Tuna and Olives
- olive oil
- 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 bell peppers, assorted colors, cored and seeded and sliced in thin strips
- 1 jalapeño or Serrano pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 small red chile pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 Tbsp yellow raisins or currants
- 1/2 cup kalamata or oil cured black olives, pitted
- 5 ounce can albacore tuna in olive oil, lightly drained
- a large handful of fresh basil leaves, sliced into thin ribbons (reserve some for garnish)
- 3/4 lb spaghetti
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet and sauté the onion for a few minutes until it softens. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for a few minutes more.
- Add the peppers and cook for about 5-6 minutes, until they are glossy and softened. Add the tomatoes and cook for a minute more. Add the raisins or currants, olives, and tuna to the pan.
- Cook the pasta just until it reaches the al dente stage. Reserve some of the cooking liquid and then lift out the pasta straight into the pan with the peppers, bringing along a little of the cooking water with it.
- Toss everything gently together, adding half the cheese, the fresh basil, and a little more pasta water if it seems too dry. Toss until the cheese has melted.
- Serve topped with the remaining cheese. Garnish with some extra basil if you like. I always do.