Spaghetti with Tuna, Capers, and Chile Flakes

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 30 minutes

The perfect dish made from basic pantry essentials, made on the fly when a grocery trip isn't an option.

There are so many things I love about this dish, but what I love most is that it’s made from basic pantry ingredients, so it can be made on the fly when you really don’t want to go shopping for food. It’s in the spirit of the classic linguine with clams, but made with canned tuna instead.

Because of the simplicity of this dish, the quality of all the ingredients is critical to the final result. The breadcrumbs are optional but do add texture. [Editor’s note: recipe from Sam Mogannam’s Eat Good Food]


Kosher salt

1 pound regular or whole wheat spaghetti

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon chile flakes (or more to taste)

1 (6-ounce) can line-caught albacore tuna, packed in its own juices (do not drain)

2 tablespoons capers, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 cup of coarse toasted breadcrumbs


Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook for 2 minutes less than the package instructs. Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of pasta water, then drain the pasta (do not rinse).

Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low hear. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft but have not taken on any color, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and chile flakes and sauté until the garlic has softened, about 2 minutes longer.

Add the tuna, juices and all, and the capers. With a wooden spoon, break the tuna into small pieces as you stir in the mixture.

Transfer this mixture to the empty pasta pot (no need to rinse it first) along with the spaghetti and 1 cup of the pasta water. Put the pot over medium heat and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the pasta absorbs the water and is just al dente, about 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat.

Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, the parsley, and the lemon zest and juice. Add another 1/4 cup pasta water to moisten; add another tablespoon or so if it still seems too dry.

Sprinkle each portion with breadcrumbs.

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