The Flavorful Kitchen – Pantry to the Rescue – Pasta al Tonno


It’s dinner time, everyone is hungry and you just got home from work and haven’t really thought about dinner. You go the refrigerator, open the door and stare.  Nothing looks interesting, not the vegetables, not the meat, not the eggs.  You close the door.  Pause and sigh.  Then open it again, just hoping it will be different this time and you will get inspired.  Nothing.  You are afraid to look over at the hungry eyes staring at you, waiting for you to create a little dinner magic.  You reach for the refrigerator door one more time.  You stop, turn and reach for the pantry door instead.


As you open the panty door, inspiration hits you.   It’s all there!  Pasta, tomato sauce, olives, capers, canned tuna in olive oil!  No worries family, I have this! It’s Pasta al Tonno for dinner tonight!

A well-stocked pantry has gotten me out of a pickle many times.  With the pantry, you have greater options to take a typical meal and bump it up by adding a can of beans or switching out a smoky Mexican pepper for a spicy Indian pepper.  Simple ingredient switches are meal game changers.

Pasta al Tonno is simply, canned Italian tuna fish in olive oil, garlicky marinara sauce, capers and black olives (regular black olives, Gaeta or Kalamata olives). A go to recipe when you are hungry and need a quick meal on the dinner table. No measuring needed. Use what you have in the pantry. Keep a jar of tomato basil sauce on hand and bump up the flavor by first adding olive oil to pan and sauté a few smashed garlic cloves until golden. Then add jarred sauce and finish with fresh basil or parsley.

On those days when you want something good to eat, a home cooked meal and dinner on the table quick, then add this to your Pantry Dinner Favorites!

My Mom and Dad would make this meal last minute and call us to come over.  Add a side salad, garlic bread and a glass of wine and it becomes a meal you don’t want to end.  Enjoy!

Pasta al Tonno with Quick Garlic & Basil Sauce


TIP – to make the sauce, use a shallow pan for quick cooking.
 While making the sauce, start to boil the water to cook the pasta. 

1 lb. Pasta of choice

2 Tablespoons olive oil for pan

2-4 peeled, smashed garlic cloves
1 29 oz. can of tomato purée
1/2 cup water
2 cans of Italian Style Tuna (light tuna is best) in olive oil – draining the
oil is optional  – keeping it adds more flavor
1/4 cup pitted, halved black olives (black, Gaeta, Kalamata)
1 heaping teaspoon of capers
Salt and black pepper to taste – add more at the end of cooking *make it spicy add
red pepper flakes
3-5 Fresh Basil Leaves

Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and cook over medium heat

Add 2-4 peeled, smashed garlic cloves and sizzle in pan until lightly golden
Add 29 oz. can of tomato purée and stir
Pour 1/2 cup water into the empty can of tomatoes and swirl around to get all
the tomato puree out of the can and add to the pan
Cook approximately 15 -20 minutes on medium high heat, until a light boil

Stir, cover and cook for another 15 -20 minutes over low heat.  Stir occasionally.  Add a little pasta water if the sauce gets to thick.
Meanwhile, your pasta water should be boiling, generously add salt, then add
pasta and cook according to the package directions.

  Tip- for pasta, check at 2 minutes before timer goes off to see if you like the texture of the pasta. We like our pasta, al dente. 

Drain pasta and serve with the Pasta al Tonno.  Enjoy!

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Lisa Sorbo
Welcome to The Flavorful Kitchen. As a Flavor Explorer and Kitchen Tinkerer, I am always seeking a new taste from an ethnic ingredient to a fun food creation. The kitchen is the hearth and hub of the home. It's where family and friends gather to cook and celebrate, comfort each other, or simply a quiet place to enjoy a cup of coffee. It's my special place because it is here that I love to tinker. It was in my kitchen that I created a family favorite recipe, started a small craft specialty food company and brought a mixed berry compote, Bella’s Berries (named after my daughter, Ella Bella), to market. In 2009, Prima Dolce Company was founded and the exciting food journeys began. Along the way I met so many wonderful people, from chefs, small business owners, and home cooks to our customers. We participate in many fundraising events, including Greenwich Hospital’s Fundraiser, Great Chefs, NYC Wine and Food Festival (NYCWFF) supporting the Food Bank of NYC, and more. As members of Good Food Guild Foundation, we support craft food makers. And as a craft food maker, Bella's Berries Compote was featured in the November 2012 issue’s on the O List in the O, Magazine. Now, we are onto a new adventure. I hope you will follow me on flavorful journeys meeting home cooks, chefs, cookbook authors, storytellers, food actionists, and those who just love a good conversation and a meal. Follow on Instagram @TheFlavorfulKitchen and Coming Fall 2020 – The Flavorful Kitchen Podcast If you have a story or recipe that you would like to share, please email me at


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