My godmother Zia Mimma taught me this recipe, and it’s something that we’ve been making together for what feels like my entire life. The preparation is simple—so simple that we were able to teach it to my stepmom, which is saying something because the woman does not cook—and isn’t much more than pasta simply dressed in a fresh tomato sauce, flecked with good-quality tuna, and tossed with oily, crunchy bread crumbs. It’s the ultimate comfort-food dish, especially for those nights when cooking feels like the last thing you want to do.

  • Kosher salt

  • 3 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

    WNK-At My Italian Table Bookcover At My Italian Table: Family Recipes from My Cucina to Yours: A Cookbook Laura Vitale
  • 1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand

  • ½ cup (about 20) Kalamata olives, pitted and halved

  • A few sprigs fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped, plus more for serving

  • A few fresh basil leaves, torn

  • 1 (6.7-ounce) jar good Italian tuna packed in olive oil (I like Tonnino), drained

  • 1 pound bucatini

  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs 

Fill a large pot with water, add a generous pinch of salt, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic and cook over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until the garlic begins to lightly brown around the edges, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, olives, parsley, and basil. Stir to combine, cover, and let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the tuna, carefully breaking it apart with your spoon. Season with a pinch of salt and remove the pan from the heat.

At this point the water should be boiling. Add the pasta and cook for 2 minutes less than the package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the panko and cook, stirring, until they brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

When the pasta is done, drain it in a colander and immediately transfer it to the skillet with the sauce. Toss to combine and cook over medium heat for a minute for the flavors to meld.

Serve topped with the crispy bread crumbs and additional parsley.

Reprinted with permission from At My Italian Table by Laura Vitale, copyright © 2024. Photographs by Lauren Volo. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.

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