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Spicy Tuna Arrabiata

Updated: May 3, 2021

Happy Labour Day! How are you feeling this week? There's a word that I've revisited recently from a New York Times article: Languish. It seems to be the dominant emotion most of us are feeling the past few months: a feeling of "blah," a sense of muddling through days, like being stuck and stagnant. I feel you. I feel the same most days too, and it takes concerted effort (and my two hyper-energetic dogs) to get me through some days and just take in each day and hour, appreciating the present and being grateful that my family and loved ones are healthy and safe.

For those times when you want to spice up days and nights that seem to go on repeat, here's an all-occasion pasta dish that is fiery yet buttery. The ingredients can be easily found in the pantry: a can of garbanzos, drained; tuna, spices, even tomatoes, if you just can't be bothered with prepping vegetables.

A generous dollop of butter builds the flavour base, combined with aromatics. You can opt to use fresh or dried red chilli to make the sauce arrabiata. If using dried, use only two dried chilli, or a teaspoon and a half. If you want a more piquant taste, feel free to add more.

Chickpeas give a nutty texture to balance the brininess of tuna. Use the oil in tuna to mix together with the tomatoes and chickpeas. When sprinkled in the stew, thyme's sweet and smoky flavour flourishes.

For the pasta, spaghetti, linguini, penne or fusilli will do. Cheese is optional as a topping. If you have fresh basil, shred them in irregular pieces and sprinkle on top of the pasta. This spicy tuna arrabiata is ready in less than half an hour.

Cooking time: 23 minutes

Serves: 4


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

6 cloves garlic, minced

3 fresh birdseye chilli, thinly sliced, or two if dried

1/2 cup diced tomatoes with juice

10-12 cherry tomatoes

1 teaspoon thyme

1/2 cup chickpeas or garbanzos, drained

lemon zest

1 can tuna

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup shredded basil (if available)

1/2 parmesan or gruyere cheese gratings (optional)

1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and leave a little pasta water to splash on the sauce.

2. Melt butter in a deep skillet (preferably cast iron) at medium-low heat. Toss in onions, garlic and chilli. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until caramelised.

3. Pour diced tomato and juice. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Add chickpeas. Toss in tuna with oil and cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle thyme. Stew in low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Grate lemon zest and carefully transfer pasta in the sauce. Toss to combine. Grate parmesan or Gruyere cheese on top. Sprinkle chopped basil leaves if available. Serve immediately.

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