Spaghetti with Grilled Tuna

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Mediterranean Kitchen

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 1998

  • About

While Italians use ventresca di tonno ali’olio (canned tuna packed in olive oil) for most of their salads and pastas, we prefer fresh tuna cooked on the grill. It remains moist and doesn’t need a heavy infusion of oil to replace the moisture lost in canning. The tuna closest to ventresca is albacore, but we use the redder fleshed yellowfin when we can get it because it stays moister.


  • ½ to ¾ pound tuna fillet, 1 inch thick
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced anchovies
  • 1 cup Tomato Sauce
  • 1 cup diced (½ inch) fresh tomatoes if in season, if not increase Tomato Sauce to cups
  • 2 teaspoons capers, rinsed well
  • 4 to 6 Kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ pound spaghetti
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (optional)


Heat the grill or broiler. Brush both sides of the tuna with a little of the olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Grill or broil a few minutes on each side for medium-rare to medium doneness. Let the tuna cool, then break it into rough 1-inch chunks.

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and anchovies and cook 1 minute. Stir in the tuna, tomato sauce, tomatoes, capers, olives, and parsley; heat through.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.

Stir the lemon zest if using into the sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drain the spaghetti and transfer to a pasta bowl. Add the sauce and quickly toss to combine. Serve hot. No cheese, please.