A Student Delicacy: Spaghetti Tonno e Pomodoro

Italian university students have certainly a hard life. They have just left the place where their mothers used to feed them with the best possible food and now it is time for them to prove that they can keep that high standard of living that can mark them as true Italians.
This is the time when Italians start learning the basic of Italian cooking. And what’s more basic than pasta? The very two ingredients that are cheap and available everywhere are: tomato and canned tuna. Together they make the typical university student dish.
This is not a dish of great and long tradition, but it is certainly been a vital component of the life of young Italians.


Here is how to prepare an authentic and easy Italian recipe, an everyday special:

  • 230gr of Spaghetti
  • 300gr of ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 100gr of canned tuna in oil
  • 8-10 gr of anchovies (preserved in oil)
  • 25gr of black olives (optional)
  • 1 chili pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • abundant olive oil
  • salt and pepper

First thing first, cut in advance and put aside the cherry tomatoes and the olives.

Put abundant olive oil in a large pan, adding the garlic and the chilli pepper. Set the fire to medium/low, making sure that the oil does not reach a high temperature (olive oil becomes toxic once it starts to make smoke). Once the oil is warmed up, add the anchovies. Anchovies in warm oil tend to melt until only their flavour will remain. Steer everything with a wooden spoon to help the melting process of the anchovies.

Put a pot with cold water on the stove to make it boil for the spaghetti.
Back to the sauce, steer the anchovies until they will be completely melted, leaving a nice salty taste. Now it is time to add the tomatoes. Keep steering to make sure to have an even cooking. You will notice that the tomatoes will quickly soften up and release their water. This will create the sauce.

Once the water starts boiling, add salt and put in the spaghetti. Don’t just throw the spaghetti inside and wait until they are done, but keep steering them inside the pot to make sure that they won’t stick to each other and to the pot and to have a perfect cooking. Keep track of the cooking time, that should be displayed on the package (in our case 7 minutes).

While the spaghetti are cooking, turn off the fire under the pan and add the tuna and the olives. Steer the sauce making all the ingredients homogeneous. At last add salt and pepper and taste the sauce to make sure it’s salty enough.


Using a spaghetti spoon, take out the spaghetti from the pot and add them directly into the pan with the sauce. We didn’t use a colander because we didn’t want the spaghetti to become to dry. Using a spaghetti spoon we could also carry some of the cooking water into the pan. Steer the spaghetti in the pan until they have well absorbed the sauce and serve them on a flat plate.


Buon appetito!


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