Spaghetti with Tuna and Anchovies

From Italian Family Dining: Recipes, Menus, and Memories of Meals with a Great American Food FamilyItalian Family Dining (Rodale Books, 2005)

We tested this recipe with a very fine canned tomato called Vaegri — indeed, the best we ever tasted beside our own homemade. We buy it at Tino’s Deli in the Bronx. We prefer fresh or salted anchovies over tinned, filleted and washed. It’s easier to fillet the anchovies before soaking.

Serves 4

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 salted anchovies, filleted, soaked for a few minutes, and chopped, or 8 oil-packed anchovies, rinsed and chopped
1 can (6 ounces) Italian tuna fish packed in oil, drained
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Hot pepper flakes
1-1/2 cups chopped fresh ripe tomatoes or whole canned Italian tomatoes
3/4 pound spaghetti

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and anchovies. Cover and simmer until the garlic begins to take on color, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the tuna fish, parsley, and hot pepper flakes to taste. Cook for several minutes, breaking up the tuna with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add the tomatoes, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the sauce is the consistency of a marinara (all the tomato should be cooked down). If the sauce is dry, add a little water to loosen it up. Add salt to taste.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high beat and add the spaghetti. Cook until it is al dente. Drain and add to the sauce. Toss well and serve.