Cooking with Keva: Spaghetti with Tuna Sauce

I will be away from the computer for the next few days because we are spending this fine midsummer weekend at the boy’s grandparents’ summer cottage in the archipelago. Usually, I would just schedule some posts and be done with it, but my Facebook crossposter has not been very happy since the latest WordPress upgrade, so I guess I’ll just let it sit for now. See you guys on Monday!

Boo. It makes me sad that this is the first Cooking With Keva post that I’m doing without having actually made it with my friend Keva 🙁 However, it is in the spirit of the series — fast and easy, yet homemade and flavorful. What makes me feel slightly better is that the last time I recall serving this was when she was there — it was after we’d just stumbled home from a 14+ hour work day on the set of my first feature film. I put this together in the time it took to have a shower, out of stuff that almost everybody has as staples in their cupboard. You can boil a pot of spaghetti in what, 8-10 minutes? That’s about all you need.


Tuna spaghetti. I’m sure there are countless variations on what you can add in, but the following is what I usually do…


I make this up in a decent-sized batch, because spaghetti is always better the next day and  a day’s worth of leftovers is usually welcome. You’ll want two cans of tuna (in oil or in water, doesn’t really matter. I have one of each here), 2 healthy handfuls of spaghetti, a jar of classic tomato pasta sauce (nothing fancy with extra bells and whistles, since we’re adding in our own stuff), olive oil, fresh basil (if you have it. dried if you don’t) and some shredded cheese (that’s leftover mozarella up there from old lasagna). A bit of fridge rummaging is encouraged, since this is an opportunity to use up those extra bits and pieces that inevitably stack up after a month of cooking. Stubs of cheese, a few extra olives, stray sprigs of herbs, a handful of shrimp? Toss ’em right in.


Cook your pasta until it’s to the consistency you prefer. Hey, not everybody likes it al dente, so I’m just trying to be all-encompassing here 🙂 Add in a dash of salt and a splash of olive oil — the salt helps the water boil faster and the olive oil keeps the pasta from sticking together after the water is poured out.


Once the pasta is going, get out another pan and toss in the tomato sauce and your basil. That’s about 4 large leaves worth from the plants on my balcony. A tip for those that are growing their basil, by the way — basil that is frozen gently tastes the same as fresh, and is very convenient if you’re making food at odd times of the day. Nobody wants to go stumbling into the garden in the middle of the night looking for herbs. I usually harvest the basil leaves as I go about my daily gardening rounds, whether I’ll be using the herb that day or not. Then I stick the washed and dried leaves in a ziploc bag and toss them in the freezer. When I need it, I take out the bag and crumple up the leaves inside the bag. They break up into tiny frozen bits like chopped spinach and are ready to be sprinkled onto the sauce instantly.


Toss in your cans of tuna, undrained. There isn’t *that* much liquid in there and what there is has fishy flavor you want to keep. Mash at the blocks and mix until the sauce is an even consistency with the fish spread out.


Toss in your extras, like cheeses, olives, veggies, meats, etc.


Once the pasta is done, drain it and mix in the sauce. Thoroughly coat the pasta and make sure there isn’t a puddle of sauce hiding at the bottom. Two wooden spoons are better than one for thorough tossing.


Ready to serve! I usually plate this with a large dollop of sour cream on the side. I don’t like adding it to the sauce, since it diminishes the tart freshness of the dairy element, but it’s great when you mix it in thoroughly right before you eat. My roommate Laura started me doing this back in school and now it’s my favorite spaghetti treatment ever.


  1. J. Bradeleine Lowe

    wow. my mom used to make tuna spaghetti almost exactly like this (minus the sour cream) when i was a kid!

    • I believe that — it’s the perfect thing for a busy mom (or college student) to make when they want to have a halfway decent meal in under ten minutes. I’ve also been known to toss in some frozen chopped spinach as well — it goes great with the sauce and adds some much needed greenery to the diet. Try the sour cream, though — it really does add something!

      (btw — heard about your new catlings! condolences on the older ones 🙁 have you put up pictures yet?)

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