Tuna Sauce for Pasta


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes about

    2 cups

Appears in

Cooking One on One

Cooking One on One

By John Ash

Published 2004

  • About

In Italy, this sauce is a traditional component of vitello tonnato, a classic dish of cold braised veal sliced and garnished with this sauce along with oil-cured olives, lemon slices, and braised young vegetables. It’s also great with pasta, either hot or cool. I especially like it cold on a warm summer day. This recipe makes enough to sauce up to 1½ pounds dried pasta. If you are concerned about eating or serving a raw egg yolk, you can substitute one that has been coddled or even hard cooked. If you can find Italian tuna in olive oil, buy it for this sauce. This is the best tuna noodle casserole you’ll ever eat.


  1. ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  2. 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  3. 1 -ounce can tuna packed in oil
  4. 1 egg yolk
  5. 4 to 6 anchovy fillets, rinsed
  6. 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  7. cup heavy cream
  8. ¼ cup or so homemade chicken stock or your favorite canned broth
  9. 3 tablespoons drained and chopped capers
  10. cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  11. Salt and freshly ground pepper, preferably white


In a blender or food processor, combine the olive oil, garlic, tuna, egg yolk, anchovies, and lemon juice and process briefly to puree. Transfer the mixture to a small mixing bowl and stir in the cream and stock gradually until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the capers and parsley, taste, and season with salt and pepper, if you think it needs it.