Grandpa’s Cheap & Easy Tuna Sauce

On the rare occasions grandma would allow my grandfather in the kitchen, this would be one of the dishes that he would commonly make. Unlike many of my other dishes this one you can get done, start to finish, in 20 minutes. I don’t sit here & pretend that this is some traditional Italian dish, but it really is a great, very different and best of all rather cheap to make dish which in this economy we all need. The origin of this dish is pretty cloudy as my grandmother related that she came home from the store one day and it was waiting for her at the table; though she theorizes he might have grabbed the recipe from some TV chef in the 1950’s. Regardless of origin, this dish is another dinner I grew up on and one of my mother & grandmother’s favorites. In fact, I intend to make this sometime this coming week & surprise my grandmother with a plate (I’m not ruining the surprise she isn’t on line) special thanks to my aunt Lucille for digging the recipe up for me.


1 small onion diced,

2 cans of tuna, drained,

1 can of black olives diced,

4 capers,

½ cup or more of red wine

1 large jar of tomato sauce (or about 28 ounces of homemade)

a couple of anchovies- this is optional; I’ve had it as many times with or without them, i think it depended upon if he had them lying around or not,

a few tablespoons of olive oil,

4-5 servings of pasta, I strongly recommend spaghetti or fettuccine with this dish, you know how to cook pasta so I won’t waste your time.

To prepare take a deep frying pan (though if memory serves correct grandpa invariably used one of those electric frying pan thingys) and brown the onions, toss in & break up the tuna, capers & sauce, cook for about 15 minutes then add the olives & wine, simmer a few minutes then serve over pasta. Very good & very simple I also intend to try the dish with canned sardines one of these days as I think that they might work even better. Hope you like it.


4 Responses to “Grandpa’s Cheap & Easy Tuna Sauce”

  1. This looks like a tomato-based tonnato sauce – could your grandfather possibly have been a secret Italian chef? Seriously, this looks pretty darn good AND it looks like something I can use in camp (any camp-friendly recipe that doesn’t involve cream of mushroom soup is a hit with me!)
    thanks for sharing this little bit of family history!

  2. kingbiscuitpants Says:

    Well my grandfather was italian (my mother’s father of who i’m named after) did work in kitchens from the time he was 9 years old till he was old enough to do construction (13) & when he was in the army he spent a year or 2 as a cook to get “a stripe immediately” before becoming a lieutenant major in the pacific theater. It would definately be very campfire/fuel friendly and the ingredients would be pretty travel proof if you used canned tomato sauce. The capers are an utterly vital ingredient however.

  3. Well, what kind of barbarian doesn’t have a jar of capers in their camp kitchen? Seriously. Jars of capers take up much less room than godforsaken cream of mushroom soup – and are much more versatile.
    Your grandfather had quite the upbringing – you ever get many stories out of him?

    • kingbiscuitpants Says:

      He was a treasure trove of stories; I have dozens of them. I intend to eventually work them into a bunch of posts. He was an incredibly interesting guy & impossible not to like; he had a natural charisma like no one I’ve ever met or likely ever will.

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