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Midnight Pasta with Tuna, Pancetta and Spinach

This pasta is very adaptable. Canned clams or squid can replace the tuna, and the pancetta or bacon is optional, but the spinach, garlic and crushed red pepper are all essential.

Plus: Pasta Recipes and Tips

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 2 to 4

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  • 3/4 pound spaghetti or thin linguine
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta or bacon, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup thawed frozen chopped spinach, squeezed dry
  • One 6-ounce can imported oil-packed tuna, drained and flaked
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • Salt


  1. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the pancetta and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta is golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and tuna, breaking up the tuna with a spoon. Add the wine and cook until nearly evaporated, about 1 minute.
  3. Drain the spaghetti, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta and reserved cooking liquid to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, tossing, until the liquid is nearly absorbed, about 1 minute. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and serve immediately.

Suggested Pairing

An assertive, floral, dry Italian white, such as Arneis, will be a refreshing contrast to this spicy, garlicky pasta.

Contributed By Photo © Maura McEvoy Published February 2004

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