Posted by: Catherine | February 10, 2009

Cold Tuna-Pasta Salad

fusillituna1About 100 years ago when I still lived in New York, still wore pantyhose and three-inch Manolos, and still read W regularly, I found this recipe in…W. Now that I live in LA and wear pajamas and flips most of the time, I still make this pasta salad. It’s the best one I make. It’s absolutely wonderful for a crowd, especially for lunch, but any time you want a cold main dish for dinner, too. I switch the ingredients around a lot—sometimes I use nicoise olives, sometimes I substitute capers, sometimes I use both balancing the amounts of each for just the right amount of saltiness. Occasionally, I add anchovies (if you do, you have to double- and triple-check that the saltiness factor is correct so be sure to add them one by one and keep tasting after each stir). But, always, the key is to use canned Italian tuna, and remember it’s even better the second day.  Please try it, and send your recipes for any pasta salad you like as well…or better.

(serves 4)

6 T olive oil

2 cloves garlic

4 oz. pine nuts

3 tomatoes, skinned (if you’re so moved; I rarely am), seeded and roughly chopped

1 lb. fusilli

2 cans Italian tuna

1/4 lb. nicoise olives (best if they’re pitted so nobody chips a tooth, which our friend Carl did…)

2 T chopped parsley, plus more for garnish…or try with basil

2 to 4 T red wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Heat olive oil in a skillet, add the garlic, pine nuts and saute five minutes, or until garlic and pine nuts are golden. Add tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until they are soft. Cool in a large bowl.

Meanwhile cook the fusilli in a pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Pour into a colander and stop the cooking by running under cold water. Let drain.

Add the fusilli to the olive oil mixture and toss to coat. Add the tuna, broken into chunks, the olives, parsley, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parsley. Serve at room temperature.



  1. Good recipe. The flavour just keeps on going and I couldn’t get Italian tuna, had to settle for an oil packed one from the international section of the supermarket. I’m off to the big city this week so I get to hit all of the ethnic markets.
    My only other observation is that you know really hungry people. I fed 6 for lunch and had left overs.

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