Quick Tuna Ragu

Quick Tuna Ragu-2

Quick Tuna Ragu

For years I thought tuna and tomato didn’t go together. And then I traveled to Italy and had the most delicious tuna and tomato pasta (which I ordered by accident) in a little restaurant just outside Florence.

Ever since then I’ve been a big fan because it’s easy to keep a can of tuna and a jar of passata (or canned tomatoes) in the pantry for a backup meal. I always have a head of cabbage in the fridge to use for things like this but of course pasta will also work if you want a true pantry meal.

This version I’ve served with boiled sliced cabbage. I know it sounds pretty boring but it’s one of my favourite low carb pasta alternatives. In my opinion it’s even better than zucchini ‘noodles’. And don’t get me started on how much I hate silly names like ‘zoodles’.

enough for: 2
takes: 20 minutes

1/2 head white cabbage, sliced into 5mm (1/4in) ribbons Or cooked pasta
2 tablespoons capers (rinsed if packed in salt)
1 can tuna in oil (400g / 14oz), not drained
1/2 jar tomato passata / puree (1.5 cups)
2-4 tablespoons butter
shaved parmesan, to serve

1. If using the cabbage bring 1cm (1/2in) salted water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add cabbage and cook, covered for 4 minutes or until cabbage is no longer crunchy (think al dente like cooked pasta). Drain well and divide between two bowls.

2. Return the pan to the heat and reduce the burner to medium-high. Add a very generous glug of extra virgin olive oil and add capers. Fry for a minute or two until capers are crisping up. Remove capers from the pan and drain on paper towel.

3. Add tuna and the liquid from the can, passata and butter to the pot. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the sauce is reduced a little. Taste and season if needed but it probably will be fine with the salt from the tuna can. If it tastes too acidic or ‘not quite right’ melt some more butter in (more butter fixes everything!)

4. If using cabbage, spoon the sauce over the cabbage in the bowls. If using pasta, toss the cooked pasta in the pot to heat through in the sauce then divide between two bowls.

5. Scatter over cooked capers and shaved parmesan.

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WINE MATCH: A nice dry white like pinot gris, gruner veltliner or riesling.

Variations & Substitutions

short on time – skip the capers.

vegetarian / vegan – replace the tuna with cooked lentils or chickpeas and replace parmesan with shaved brazil nuts.

dairy-free – replace parmesan with shaved brazil nuts or just skip it. Or my brazil nut ‘parmesan’.

more substantial (carb lovers) – use pasta!

more substantial (low carb) – use more cabbage! and serve with extra cheese.

Low FODMAP – don’t use savoy cabbage and consider using a mix of cabbage and pasta.

family-friendly – pasta!

no capers – just skip them and use more parmesan. They do add a lovely depth of flavour. Actually pitted olives or anchovies cooked into the sauce will be good alternatives.

different veg – use zucchini noodles (spiralized zucchini) or carrot noodles. The sauce is also brilliant on broccoli or just a big bowl of baby spinach leaves.

Waste Avoidance Strategy

cabbage (white) – will keep in a plastic bag in the fridge for weeks, even months. Can be frozen but will have a wilted texture once defrosted.

pasta / capers / tuna / tomato passata – keep them in the pantry.

butter – will keep in the fridge for weeks.

parmesan – keeps for longer in a chunk so only shave when you’re cooking. I wrap in waxed paper or baking paper and then keep in an airtight container or a sealed ziplock bag. I prefer this over just wrapping in cling wrap because the air in the container allows the cheese to breathe and not sweat but the container / plastic bag prevents from drying out in the dry fridge air. Either way will keep for months.

Prepare Ahead

Yes! Just cook as per the recipe but keep the parmesan separately. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or can be frozen. To serve, bring back to a simmer in a saucepan.

Quick Tuna Ragu

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Amrita February 19, 2019

I made this for lunch today. Scrumptious! Took a gamble here as I don’t usually like capers, but rinsing them first & then frying like this took it to a different level and, you’re right Jules, gave the whole dish a good depth of flavour. This is also the first time in my life I enjoyed boiled cabbage. Cooking it with your method in minimal salted water for just a few minutes made all the difference. What a great idea as a swap for pasta to get in more veg. I didn’t have cheese handy, but had some nutritional yeast which I mixed in with the sauce to give it a cheesy vibe! Wasn’t sure about this dish re boiled cabbage & capers, but it’s another winner! 🙂 Going to try the fried cabbage with egg next time. Thank you once again, Jules! Don’t know what I’d do without Stonesoup!


jules February 21, 2019

Wonderful Amrita!

So glad you overcame your skepticism around both capers and the cabbage. I’m looking forward to the weather getting cooler here so I can get back into my boiled cabbage. So good!

And you’re going to love the fried cabbage with egg.

I really appreciate you letting me know that Stonesoup is helping you! It means so much to me to hear that 🙂


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