Penne Rigate with Tomato Tuna Sauce

Penne Rigate With Tomato Tuna Sauce

Penne Rigate With Tomato Tuna Sauce is a typical Italian pasta dish I grew up with. Made with just a few good quality staple ingredients and packed full of wonderful flavors, this recipe is one you will turn to again and again.

Penne Rigate with Tomato Tuna Sauce

As is common in most cultures and at a time when food was scarce, families made do with the few humble ingredients they had on hand while creating simple and authentic comfort food made with love. In Italian this philosophy is known as La Cucina Povera, or otherwiseย “the poor kitchen” and truly born out of necessity.

This concept is far easier to embrace during summertime when gardens are lush with fruits and vegetables. However in wintertime we need not look any further then our own kitchen pantries.

Canned tuna is one of those staple items I always keep in my pantry. Its ready at a moments notice for quick sandwiches as my son can attest…he just adored tuna sandwiches for his school lunches! They are also wonderfully delicious tossed with green leafy salads and legumes for an extra protein kick.

Penne Rigate with Tomato Tuna Sauce

However, canned tuna also makes a rather enticing sauce which simply begs to be tossed over freshly cooked pasta and I know you will most certainly appreciate its simplicity.

A good quality oil packed canned tuna is much more flavorful then the water packed variety and will elevate this simple sauce. Also, don’t be too concerned about the oil which you will be draining out anyhow but if this is still an issue for you then by all means go for the water packed.

Penne Rigate with Tomato Tuna Sauce

Although you can choose any pasta of your choice, my preference and absolute favorite are penne rigate or the smaller variety pennette rigate. I love this pasta shape for its crevices and hallow center making them the perfect vehicle to hold a chunky tomato and tuna sauce.

Penne Rigate with Tomato Tuna Sauce

Impress your family or friends and make Penne Rigate with Tomato Tuna Sauce tonight!

Buon Appetito!

Penne Rigate with Tomato Tuna Sauce
A delicious and easy tomato sauce with canned tuna and kalamata olives served with penne rigate.
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
  • Tomato Sauce
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • pinch of crushed chili pepper
  • 24 ounce jar Passata ( Italian strained tomatoes) I used San Marzano
  • 2 sprigs of basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 x 85 grams canned oil packed tuna, drained
  • ¼ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • chopped parsley for garnish
  • 450 grams Penne Rigate or other pasta of your choice
  1. Heat the oil in a medium sized sauce pot over medium low heat and saute the garlic, chopped onions and the crushed chili pepper just until the onions are soft, while stirring often for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the passata (Italian strained tomatoes), basil, salt and pepper and stir well.
  3. Fill the bottle of passata three quarters full with water. Give it a good swirl and add this to the sauce.
  4. Bring the sauce to a boil then lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the sauce thickens and the sweet concentrated flavors of the tomatoes come through.
  5. While the sauce is slowly simmering, bring a large pot of water to boil.
  6. Salt the water and cook the pasta according to directions on package.
  7. At this point,while the pasta cooks add the drained tuna and chopped kalamata olives to the tomato sauce and allow to simmer till the pasta is cooked.
  8. When ready, drain the pasta and toss with some of the tomato sauce.
  9. Plate the pasta and top with more sauce and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.
  10. Serve while still warm.


  1. Wow I’m going to have to try this some day! And oil-packed tuna is so much cheaper, too.

  2. Hello Marisa, hubby recently discovered his appetite for tuna and is a huge pasta fan. We will give it a go! This sounds perfect for him. What a coincidence! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you!

  3. Just the type of pasta dish I absolutely adore! Quality canned tuna make all the difference.

    • Hi Paula, yes I agree it makes a huge difference especially with so few ingredients in a recipe. Thanks so much for your comment ๐Ÿ˜Š

  4. Hi Marisa. I want to dive right in and try a bite ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a perfect weeknight meal. Your photos always turn out so lovely!

  5. Sounds like dinner for this week’s Italian night – Thursday at our house – will be your tuna and pasta sauce recipe! Sounds delicious and I’m always interested in making delicious Italian food with simple ingredients.

  6. one of my faves….what lovely pics too!

  7. This sounds just wonderful! To be honest I never thought of mixing tuna with a tomato sauce before. Looking forward to try it out.

    Thanks Marisa! Have a wonderful weekend.

    • I really hope you get to try it out one day! The flavors are truly remarkable and so simple to prepare. Thanks so much…enjoy your weekend Redawna ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Looks beautiful. I think it’s lunch time.

  9. Marisa, I have to tell you I love when Nicoletta makes this type of pasta, and that olive oil packed Tuna is so delicious and deepens the tomato sauce to such a richness it’s indescribable.I made Nicoletta a Tuna salad sandwich and she was in heaven. You have made me crave this so bad that it is going to be on the menu plan for next week. Great job great photos, and can you flip me a few of those olives, can never say no to olives and fresh bread, lol. Great job on this one! and beautiful photos!.

    • Hi Loreto, there is indeed much to love about this dish. Its quick, easy and so delicious. We too adore tuna salad sandwiches and my husband will only eat them if I’ve made them as he says no one makes them like I do but I think he is simply spoiled…lol.

      I wish I could send some olives your way, maybe one day they will figure out how….thanks so much for your lovely comment and compliment! Happy weekend to you and Nicoletta ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. What a lovely dish, Marisa. The concept of the Italian poor kitchen is one that I am familiar with. My husband’s Nona just passed away a month ago and she had so many stories of growing-up during WWII and making do with what they had in the Piedmont region. Thank you for this lovely recipe and for turning my thoughts to a lovely and strong hearted woman.

    • The older generation always have the very best stories to tell. I have always enjoyed listening when my parents recounted tales about their own upbringing as it gave me a sneak peek into their younger years.

      I am happy to hear that it brought back happy memories for you. Thanks so much for dropping by and your lovely comment. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Marisa, I am definitely going to try this yummy recipe. Love the addition of tuna and kalamata olives in the sauce.
    Thanks for sharing!

  12. Always in love with Italian food. These must taste great, I’ll try to make them soon. Thanks for the recipe ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Marisa, this looks so delicious! I love discovering new sauces for pasta, this sauce sounds amazing!

    • Hi Agnes, this is a family favorite pasta dish and so simple to make. I hope you get to try it and thanks so much for dropping by ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I should not have stopped by your blog when I am fasting – my tummy is rumbling so badly after checking out this penne. I want it all!!

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