Penne Pasta with Tuna, Tomatoes and Olives

This is a dish that is great for dinner “emergencies,” like when you are too tired to shop, want something easy, and something really good. All the ingredients can come out of the pantry or are staples, and this dish comes together quickly. You can use fresh tomatoes if you wish (slightly over-ripe ones work well for this sauce), but only if they are really good, and you want to take more time. Otherwise use good quality canned tomatoes – they are way better than the nasty out of season grocery store “tomatoes.” For the olives, you can use what you have (try to avoid California Black olives), either a jar or what’s in the refrigerator. Green or black, oil cured or brined. I would not mix too many types.


2 tablespoons olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled, de-germed, and minced
1 to 1 1/2 cup pitted olives (kalamata, Nicoise, or try Pensi Pasta’s Sicilian Spiced olives for a livelier version of this dish. Just avoid California black olives for this dish)
1- 6 to 7 oz can of Dave’s Albacore tuna (whatever one you have on hand will work fine), drained and well flaked
1-14 ounce can of chopped tomatoes, or 3 medium tomatoes, diced
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
A pinch of marjoram (fresh is best if you have it) and or oregano
Optional; a pinch of red chili flakes
12 ounces of penne pasta


Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil for the pasta.

While the pasta water heats, warm a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.

When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook as per instructions on box.

When the pan is hot, add the olive oil. As soon as the oil is hot, add the onions and cook until they soften and are “clear.”

Add the tuna and olives, and cook to warm through.

When tuna and olives are warm, make a little space in the center of the pan and add the garlic. Cook until garlic is aromatic and softening.

Raise the heat to high, and add in the tomatoes. If using fresh, add in any liquid that came out. If using canned tomatoes, use some of the liquid from the can – enough to ensure that the pan does not dry out, about 1/3 of a cup.

Cook to heat the tomatoes through, and season with salt and pepper. If using chili flakes, add them now. Toss to mix everything.

The pasta should be done by now. Drain the pasta when done, being sure to reserve 3-4 ounces of cooking water. Add the pasta to the sauce, and toss, using the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce to a consistency that will coat all of the pasta.

YIELD: 2 large portions or 4 smaller

SOURCE: Chef Andrew Cohen

Print Friendly, PDF & Email