Pirate Pasta

by Sarah Jane





Pirate Pasta


One of my favorite rituals growing up was watching Giada de Laurentiis on the cooking channel on Saturday mornings in my pijamas while eating breakfast. Now that I live in Italy this is no longer possible but I still love to try some of her recipes. This is my version of a pasta that I saw her make on an episode a while back. It is similar to Livio’s parents Spaghetti al Tonno (spaghetti with tuna), which is a very common weekday dish all around Italy due to the ingredients being affordable, simple and easy to find.

The one key ingredient to not skimp on however would be the tuna. I highly recommend Italian tuna in olive oil, not in water, as the tuna in olive oil is not only full of healthy fats but it also tastes 100 times more delicious. I recommend the brands Tonnino or Cento in the US.  I would highly recommend my version or the original version I link to below that is the original as you can’t go wrong with Giada!

Livio declared this to be “the best pasta dish he’s ever eaten”.

Now I don’t know if he’s exaggerating a little bit or not but that definitely means it is one to keep!

Pirate Pasta

Pirate Pasta
adapted from Giada at home


1/2 lb spaghetti
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 large or 1 small onion finely diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole with toothpicks through
salt and pepper
1/4 cup pitted green olives, halved
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp capers
1/2 tsp crushed rep pepper flakes
5-6 oz tuna in olive oil, drained
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup grated parmiggiano reggiano or pecorino romano (freshly grated, not pregrated in a can- trust me it makes all the difference)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.

2. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the olives, tomato paste, capers, red pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and the tuna. Using a wooden spoon, break up the tuna into 1-inch pieces. Add the wine and the pasta cooking water and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove the garlic and discard.

3. Pour the spaghetti into the tuna mixture. Add the 1/2 cup cheese and the basil, and toss until coated, using the reserved cooking liquid to loosen the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Buon appetito!