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  • Writer's pictureSusie Csorsz Brown

Spaghetti alla Carretierra (a.k.a the best pasta for any weeknight)

Updated: Jun 25

Pasta is an amazing food, right? You can top it with any number of combinations of ingredients and most of them are super tasty, don’t require a lot of effort and can feed a group of hungry people. Most pasta dishes are good weeknight options, really. This version involves dried mushrooms, tomato and tuna and results in a whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts sort of a melange. I mean, sure, with so few ingredients, you're going to want to make sure you use as high of a quality as you can; but the list you need is super short. On top of that, this is just tasty.

You have some options on this one. If you have a jar of passata (Italian tomato puree), feel free to sub it. If you have Italian canned tomatoes, this is a great recipe to use them. You could definitely do this with fresh tomatoes, too, just suggest that you might want to take the step of removing the skin (hint: you could use the pasta water as it heats to help make that process easier). You can add two cans of tuna, or up to three if you like a lot of fish with your pasta. You do you, and rely on what you have on hand.

Note: I add a bit of anchovy paste to up the umami-factor. You definitely can skip it, but also, you don't get an obnoxiously fishy vibe from it, and it's an addition that just makes this that much more tasty. Did I mention this is super tasty? Hope you try it.

Spaghetti Alla Carrettiera (Tomato, Tuna, and Mushroom Pasta)

Yield: 4 to 6 servings 


1 1/2 ounces (40g) dried porcini mushrooms

1 cup boiling water

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing pasta

4 medium cloves garlic, minced

Large pinch red pepper flakes

1/3 cup finely minced fresh parsley leaves and tender stems, divided, plus more for garnish

1 tsp of anchovy paste, optional

One (28-ounce; 795g) can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid, thoroughly crushed (or use a jar of passata)

Two or three (5-ounce; 140g) olive oil-packed tuna, preferably, oil reserved (two if you like a bit of tuna in your pasta; three if you like a lot)

Kosher salt

1 pound (450g) dried spaghetti


In a small heatproof bowl or measuring cup, soak mushrooms in boiling water until fully softened, about 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove mushrooms from soaking liquid and squeeze out excess moisture back into the bowl or measuring cup. Reserve 1/4 cup soaking liquid, making sure to dispose of any grit that has settled at the bottom.Chop mushrooms into 1/4-inch pieces and set aside.

In a 5-quart pot, combine 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon minced parsley. Set over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until very fragrant and garlic is just beginning to turn the lightest shade of gold, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until lightly sautéed and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add anchovy paste, if you are using it. Stir well.

Add reserved 1/4 cup mushroom soaking liquid, tomatoes, and 1 - 2 tablespoons or so reserved tuna oil (if your tuna doesn't have that much oil, just add as much as it does), and bring to a simmer. Season with salt. Flake in tuna and stir to combine. Cover and reduce heat to low.

In a pot of salted, boiling water, cook spaghetti, stirring frequently, until just shy of al dente, about 1 minute less than package recommends.

Using tongs, transfer spaghetti directly into simmering sauce along with 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, stirring to combine. Cook, stirring, until pasta is al dente and sauce has thickened, so it coats noodles and isn't watery, about 3 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 cup minced parsley, stirring vigorously to combine. If sauce is too thick, add more pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring well between additions, until desired sauce consistency is reached. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary.


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