Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tuna And Cream Sauce

Here's a pasta sauce recipe I tried out from my David Rocco cookbook. It's called Tuna and Cream Sauce in plain English, or Salsa Di Tonno E Crema in sexy Italian. Hmmm, why does everything sound better in Italian? ;)

I was attracted to the simplicity in ingredients (there's always canned tuna, tomato sauce and cream in my house) and the speed at which it can be whipped up. It's a perfect dish for lazy days, especially weekends.

In the book, David Rocco challenges you to cook a pasta dish with this sauce the next time your friends order a pizza. :) He promises your pasta will be ready way before the pizza boy arrives!

Anyhow, it was a delicious sauce, and I loved how the cream transformed the ordinary tomato puree into a luxurious, velvety blanket for the penne. Also, I didn't even use 1/2 cup cream as stated in the recipe. I only used about 1/4 cup and it was enough to make me go "Mmmmm!". So, if you are cautious about calories, feel free to cut back on some of the cream.

These are your main ingredients. I used my packet of dried cherry tomatoes in place of sun-dried tomatoes.

(largely adapted from David Rocco's Dolce Vita)
Serves 4

- 1lb (500g) penne, fusilli or any short pasta
- 12 black olives, pitted (I omitted, didn't have any)
- 8 large sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 4 tbsps (60ml) extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus extra for drizzling
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cups (500ml) tomato puree or tomato sauce (I used canned whole tomatoes, which I mashed up quite finely with some liquid from the can)
- 1 can (7oz/198g) tuna, packed in oil
- 1/2 cup (125ml) whipping cream (35%)
- 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (I used dried ones instead)
- Salt, to taste
- Sugar (optional), if the tomatoes taste too tart
- Grated parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

1. Cook your pasta until al dente (make sure you salt your pasta water generously). While it's cooking, make the sauce.

2. Roughly chop up the olives and sun-dried tomatoes.

3. Heat the EVOO in a pan, then gently brown the garlic, olives and sun-dried tomatoes. Add the tomato puree or sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Taste test and see if it's too tart (my pet peeve). If it is, a dash of sugar will help counter that. Then in go your tuna and whipping cream. Let this simmer for a few minutes, and it's ready. Taste it and see if it needs salt.

4. Drain your pasta, reserving 1/2 cup (125ml) or so of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the pan of sauce, and pour in a bit of the reserved cooking water to help bind everything together*. Cook for a minute or so on high heat. Once you get a creamy, thick sauce coating the pasta, you're ready to eat. Add the chopped parsley and mix well.
* You don't have to add the entire 1/2 cup. Add enough to get the desired consistency you want.

5. I sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese before serving.

Buon appetito and happy weekend, everyone!


  1. Mmm! Looks like something I can whip together for a quick weekday dinner. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Very very Italian! I haven't seen the dried cherry tomatoes...they look almost like dried cranberries.
    Excellent click!

  3. This is something that got me through NUS lol
    Beautiful pics :)

  4. I love simple & quick pasta dishes like this one. And of course cream is a welcome addition in just about anything (unfortunately for my hips).

  5. Hi Ju...looks great and simple!

  6. Hi Ju, this looks simple and nice. I wonder how the dried cherry tomato taste like.

    I ever cooked pasta with tuna but mine is very much our local version, I used chili tuna and some tomato puree, didn't add any cream. Shall try your version next time.

  7. Ju, this is definitely a simple but delicious meals! My hubb and I now like pasta that is not too complicated and smothered with lots of ingredients. Keep it simple is the motto!

  8. Looks terrific. I don't think I've had this since I lived in Italy, and that was over 20 years ago. Sorry I've missed so much on your blog! We put our house on the market in May and finally are settled in a new house, after much hand wringing and nashing of teeth. I hope you and the family are well!

  9. this pasta dish looks absolutely amazing. I love how simple it is.

  10. Dried cherry tomatoes? I have never seen that before.

  11. Love pasta dishes! So simple and so delicious!

  12. Favolosa questa pasta , bravissima ju. Scusami in questo periodo sono stata poco presente, io abito vicina al mare ed hio approffitato delle ferie. Buon ferragosto ,un abbraccio Daniela.

  13. this looks like something I can try coz I still have a can of tomato sauce. looks very yummy :)

  14. I cook the toamto sauce until the oil is "coming out", a little oil separates from the toamtoes. Then it's ready, for me it is, then only I would add the tuna. What I only learned not long ago was to put the pasta into the sauce pan and finish their cooking there. I thought Mario Batali had propagated this method, but now I see that your favorite Italian does the same. Your pasta looks great, nice photos.

  15. The essence of tomatoes...woo la la...with the dried cherry tomatoes (that's new to me)

  16. I love this recipe! I make a similar one from The Silver Spoon Pasta Cookbook. It is so yummy and saves so much money. Cheers!

  17. Very authentic, except for the parmigiano. Traditionally, though there are some exceptions in the south now, Italians don't like to top seafood (especially pastas) with cheese, because it overpowers the flavor of the ocean. Try with some fresh toasted breadcrumbs sprinkled over the top instead.

  18. Oh, we made this too but without cheese, and threw in some fresh tomatoes too (so 3 kinds of tomatoes in one dish hehe) and we used bay scallops instead of the tuna. Just added when you said to add the tuna, and simmered 3-4 minutes to cook the scallops (they're the small kind, so they cooked evenly). The boyfriend loved it! Thanks :-)

  19. Wow! I love the combination of tuna and cream in here! I would love to try this one. Perfect.