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Spaghetti with Tuna and Basil

Yield 4 TO 6
Spaghetti and linguine go particularly well with light tomato sauces and seafood sauces, which cling to the long strands.


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • One 35-ounce can Italian peeled tomatoes, chopped, 1/2 cup liquid reserved
  • Two 6-ounce cans imported tuna in olive oil, drained and lightly flaked
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup shredded basil

How to Make It

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over low heat until the garlic is golden, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their liquid and simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 7 minutes. Add the tuna and simmer briefly to heat through; stir gently to keep the tuna in large pieces. Season with salt and black pepper and keep warm.

  2. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the spaghetti and return it to the pot. Add the butter and toss well, then add the tuna sauce, reserved pasta cooking water and basil and toss again. Season with salt and black pepper, transfer to a warmed bowl and serve at once.

  3. Wine Recommendation: Garlicky sauce, meaty tuna and sweet, fresh basil all point to a tart but assertive white, such as a Tocai Friulano from Italy, as a perfect flavor foil. Top choices include the 1996 Ronco del Gnemiz or the 1996 Schiopetto.