Tuna puttanesca with tagliatelle

A rich, flavoursome tomato sauce with olives, capers & tuna. A tasty twist on traditional pasta puttanesca that will become a family favourite dinner!

“This is the best thing you’ve made for ages!”

So spake DH as he tucked into a bowlful of this delicious savoury pasta. Kipper, I’m sure, would have voiced her approval too, but she was too busy stuffing saucy pasta into her mouth. 

Not a bad result for something I threw together quickly after getting home from a playdate with Kipper. 

Tuna puttanesca pasta.

Last minute decisions

I had intended to make a simple tomato sauce, but spotted some olives in the fridge and decided to up the ante a bit and give it the puttanesca treatment. Having tarted up the tomato sauce, I then decided we all needed some protein, so in went the tuna. There was slightly more thought to it than that, but probably not much. It is really delicious though! 

Meltdown cure!

Kipper had been having a mega-meltdown as I put the finishing touches to this, largely because a) she was really tired, b) she was really hungry, and c) her Dad had just taken away the iPad so he could set the table. Fortunately the promise of some extra olives in her portion was enough to calm her down, and once she’d actually eaten some, thus solving problem b (above) she was transformed into a much more pleasant dinner companion.

Tuna puttanesca pasta on a fork.


I thought that this puttanesca-esque sauce was rich, savoury and delicious just as it was, but DH does like to go in for an umami overload sometimes, so he splashed some Worcestershire sauce onto his as well. He encouraged Kipper and I to do the same, but we both agreed that we were enjoying it just fine without. Maybe he doesn’t get enough salt in his diet? Who knows. You are of course welcome to follow his lead if you feel the tuna puttanesca needs a little extra oomph.

Plenty to go around

I was pretty pleased with this dish, especially since it was ready in only just over half an hour, and largely from store cupboard ingredients. This made three good sized servings, and would probably stretch to four if you had a side dish of vegetables or a salad to go with it.

A rich, flavoursome tomato sauce with olives, capers & tuna. A tasty twist on traditional pasta puttanesca that will become a family favourite dinner!

A rich, flavoursome tomato sauce with olives, capers & tuna. A tasty twist on traditional pasta puttanesca that will become a family favourite dinner!

Want deliciously easy, family-friendly recipes like this one delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up. (Of course, I’ll never pass on your email address to anyone.)

Tuna puttanesca pasta

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword olive, pasta, tomato, tuna
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 3
Calories 775kcal
Author Helen


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small-medium onion
  • ½ tsp crushed chilli
  • 400 g tin peeled tomatoes (approx. 14 oz)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 100 ml vegetable stock (approx. ½ cup)
  • 10-12 pitted black olives
  • 2 tsp capers drained
  • 185 g tin tuna in sunflower or olive oil (approx. 6½ oz)
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 400 g Cooked tagliatelle or other pasta to serve (approx. 14 oz)


  • Peel and dice the onions. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat, and add the chopped onions and crushed chilli. Fry for a few minutes until the onions are soft and beginning to brown.
  • Add the tinned tomatoes to the pan and crush in the garlic. Use a spoon to break up the tomatoes. Add the basil and vegetable stock, mix well, and bring to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes.
  • Stir in the olives and capers and cook for another few minutes. The sauce should be starting to thicken.
  • Drain the oil from the tuna into the sauce, then flake in the fish. Mix well to combine. Add the lemon zest, stir and, cook until the tuna is just heated through - about 3 minutes.
  • Serve hot with tagliatelle or other pasta of your choice.


Approx per serving: 775 calories, 37g fat, 28g protein, 82g carbs

Tuna puttanesca pasta.

If you’re looking for more recipes that use a tin of tuna, you’re in luck! Try these:
My tuna ‘meatballs’ with courgetti, spaghetti & tomato sauce.
Or my zesty tuna pasta, which can be served hot or cold.
From some of my fellow bloggers, we have:
Cheesy tuna pasta from Fab Food 4 All.
Tuna Nicoise Tatties from Foodie Quine (scroll down the page to find the recipe).
Tuna meatball and courgette risotto from Anne’s Kitchen.


  1. Sarah Klinkowitz

    Fantastic! Love this recipe!

  2. I love it when a dish you just throw together works and the family rave about it! Love the sound of this pasta and all those flavours, I only recently discovered that I liked capers in pasta dishes when I’d always picked them off pizzas! Thanks for linking to my dish:-)

  3. I reckon olives in tomato sauce can only be a good thing. You’re daughter has very good taste. Wondering what I could sub the tuna for other than cheese – hmmm.

    • Thank you! I’m sure she would agree with you!
      You can just leave the tuna out and have it without. I’m not sure you need to sub something else in. H x.

  4. I’ve been craving tuna for about a week now. I think you’ve just helped me decide what I cook next!!! It looks delicious!

    Chocolates & Chai

  5. Madeleine Morrow

    I adore puttanesca sauce and realise now that I haven’t made it in ages. Thanks for the tasty reminder.

  6. Yummy! I don’t enough tuna so this is nice recipe to get back into eating more. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  7. My daughter absolutely loves tinned tuna. This will make a fab quick easy family tea although I will have to leave out the olives and capers from her portion!

  8. Lovely. You can’t beat a tin of tuna. I always have some in my cupboard and could eat it every day if I could! You’ve got me craving pasta now.. Of on the hunt for some gluten free magic!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *