Orecchiette al Tonno

Orecchiette al Tonno


My clever ruse worked. And, it worked even better than I had hoped!

I was looking through an old issue of La Cucina Italiana yesterday and found a recipe for orecchiette with a tuna sauce I had somehow missed. It was a simple recipe and just by reading the ingredients I knew it would be a hit.

I showed the recipe to Victor and he said he would make fresh orecchiette!  The plan was working very well…

This morning, he said he would actually make the whole dinner!  Ya gotta love a man who can cook. I happily said go for it and set out to make a loaf of crusty bread as my contribution – smiling, knowing I was in for a treat for dinner.

I tell ya – this one is a winner times two! The pasta is stellar and the sauce is out of this world. And all of it is simple to do. The pasta took a little bit of time to make, but it was done in about 30 minutes.  The sauce took no time, at all.

We all cleaned our plates – I sopped up every last drop with buttered slabs of crusty bread. It was a sacrifice I gladly made.

Orecchiette al Tonno

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1 pound fresh orecchiette (dried, if you must)
  • 1 (5-ounce) can high-quality tuna in olive oil, drained
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In a large skillet, combine oil, anchovies, garlic and half of the parsley. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up anchovies until fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Add tomato paste and 3/4 cup water; bring just to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook about 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, cook pasta until just tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain pasta (reserving 1/2 cup cooking water) and transfer to skillet with sauce; add remaining parsley, tuna and generous grinding of pepper.

Cook over high heat, tossing to coat pasta with sauce, and adding as much of the pasta cooking liquid you need to moisten, as desired. Add S&P, as desired and top with freshly-grated cheese.

You can use a store-bough orecchiette, if you really have to, but this is pretty stellar – and really easy to make.

Fresh Orecchiette

  • 2 cups semolina flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2/3 cup water

On counter, whisk together flour and salt. Mound flour mixture, then form a well in center. Slowly pour 2/3 cup warm water into the well, whisking with a fork to incorporate flour from inside rim. Continue until liquid is absorbed and a rough cohesive dough forms, then knead, scraping as you go, until dough forms a mostly complete mass.

Knead 8 to 10 minutes more to form a smooth dough.

Divide dough into 6 pieces; wrap all but 1 piece in plastic wrap. On a clean work surface roll unwrapped dough into a 1/3-inch-diameter rope. Cut rope into 1/3-inch-long pieces.

With the side of your thumb, gently but firmly press 1 piece to just flatten into a coin-like shape, then simultaneously gently but firmly press and drag the coin to create a small lip. Flip the coin over your forefinger to create the small “ear” shape, with the inner surface now on the outside.

Transfer orecchiette to a lightly floured baking sheet and repeat with remaining pieces and dough.

Making fresh pasta really isn’t as difficult as you think – and the results are so worth the trouble (says the guy who never has to make it because Victor always comes through…)

But if your house doesn’t have a Victor, grab a kid – or spouse – and have a bit of fun-together-time in the kitchen!

It really is worth it.

Oh… and here’s the bread I made…



My only change from the last time I made it was switching out 1/4 cup white for whole wheat flour. I still used the 1/3 cup rye flour.