Tuna Sauce for Pasta or Pizza

Tuna Sauce for Pasta or Pizza

From The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews
by Edda Servi Machlin

We have been enjoying this quick easy meal for 40 years since we used a wedding gift certificate at the Synagogue Gift Shop to buy Machlin’s great book. The gift might have been a pointed message to my gentile wife, but it did help her to feed me the way my Aunt Jennie had once warned me only a Jewish girl can. According to Machlin, the Jews in Italy in the 16th C. worked long hours and relied on recipes easy to prepare in the scant minutes available. But they were Jewish and Italian, so they cooked with love. I use the leftover sauce on home-made sourdough pizza. It’s an easy version of a Galician Sardine Empanada. Occasionally I am ambitious enough to prepare la pastry dough for the real thing.


-1 clove garlic
-2 large sprigs Italian parsley
-1 tbsp. shredded fresh basil
or 2 tsp. dried
-3/4 cup olive oil
-1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
-1 6 1/2 can chunk light tuna packed in oil, drained and chopped
-2 heaping tbsp. tomato paste
-1/2 cup dry red wine
-2 cups of crushed tomatoes
-2 cup peeled tomatoes, diced


Finely chop together garlic, parsley and basil. Place half this mixture in a saucepan with half the oil. Add 1/4 tsp salt and red pepper and cook over medium heat for a minute or two (do not let the garlic get brown).

Add tuna and tomato paste and stir with a wooden spoon one minute more. Add wine and stir over high heat until tomato paste is dissolved. Add the crushed and diced tomatoes and cook for 5 more minutes. Taste for salt and correct if necessary.

Remove from heat and add the remaining herb mixture and oil. Serve over pasta and oil, or use as pizza sauce or for bruschetta.

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