Crushed red pepper and tuna pasta: as simple and delicious as it is!

I have no idea why I haven’t posted this recipe yet since it is a very popular one in Italy AND in my family, either with the two variants: the “white” or “red*” version.  A quick pasta ready in 20 minutes, flavored with panfry canned (in olive oil) tuna, crushed red pepper, white cream and parmesan. Super creamy, delicate and with a hint of spicy, really suits any taste and can be kept as a “last minute” meal whenever you are out of ideas for dinner.

4 servings INGREDIENTS

1 pack maccheroni (my favorite are the thickest available at the store)

3tbs. olive oil

2 cans (5 oz. each) tuna in olive oil

1/4 small sized onion finely chopped

2 cloves garlic

crushed red pepper to taste

2-3 tbs. whipping cream or cream cheese

a generous handful of grated parmesan cheese


Start heating a pot of salted water to cook the spaghetti (if you want to be sure to cook your pasta in the authentic Italian Style, follow these easy directions).  In the meanwhile, in a medium sized pan heat the olive oil with the chopped onion and the cloves  of garlic. Open the canned tuna, dry it from its oil and crumble it in the pan as soon as the onions looks translucent.  Add the crushed red pepper.

This sauce doesn’t need to cook much. In few minutes you will see the tuna changing its color so add the whipped cream (not whipped) and the grated parmesan and let it cook for a couple few minutes. Alternatively, you can melt in a couple of tbs. of cream cheese (plus, obviously, the parmesan). Switch off the heat: your sauce is ready.

As soon as the water reaches the boiling point, start cooking the pasta. When the maccheroni are done, dry it very well in a colander keeping some of the cooking water for the sauce, in case in the meanwhile it got too dense.   Take away the garlic cloves from the sauce, add few tbs. of the Maccheroni water if needed. Mix the maccheroni  with the sauce directly in the pan, and serve still hot. YUM! DELICIOUS!

Learnt it, made it, loved it!   TIPS: – This sauce can really be pared with any kind of short or long pasta: even the spaghetti would turn out delicious dressed with it!

– If you prefer the idea of a red* version of this sauce, use a small pot instead of a pan, and once the tuna has changed its color, add a can of tomatoes sauce and follow the same instructions needed to make “Italian Tomatoes sauce“, so you will also know the truth about “Marinara sauce”.

– This pasta dish really needs to be served still warm (once reheated in a microwave it will keep the taste but get too much dry) but if you are looking for a “cold tuna pasta salad” for a cook out or as sack lunch, try this awesome “tuna, lemon and cappers pasta salad”.

– Of course this is another handy recipe during Lent time, and if you need a list of more, check out this post about “10 Lent meal ideas“.

– My favorite “tuna in olive oil” brand that I can easily find here in the Mid West is the GENOVA one (this is not an affiliate link so If you buy from here I won’t earn a penny 🙂 ): it is not as delicious as the one we can buy in Italy (which is tuna in Extravergin Olive oil), but honestly it is, in my humble opinion, the most decent substitute.

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Talk to you next week,



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