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Tuna Sauce

An extremely basic, extremely tasty sauce. A very slightly bastardized Italian recipe. I come from the school of "eh" measurement, such as "Yeah, you put 'eh' much parsley in there" (making gesture with hand to illustrate), so these are all approximations.

I tend to make this type of sauce when I'm broke, so I usually use canned tuna. If you were to bake up some tuna steaks and flake them into the sauce, it's absolutely luscious.

  • Extra-virgin olive oil (not the wimpy stuff)
  • 2 medium sweet yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped
  • 1-3 cans tuna (depending on how broke you are) OR buy 1 lb. of fresh tuna, then bake it and flake it up
  • 2 large cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • Black pepper, optional
In a large pot, pour enough olive oil in to cover the bottom of the pot and heat it over medium-low heat. Add the onions; cook about 4 minutes or until tasty-looking (i.e. a little transparent, taste-testing is appropriate here). Be careful not to let the onions or garlic stick to the bottom of the pan by stirring frequently, lowering the heat and cooking longer if necessary. Add garlic and cook a bit longer, 1-2 minutes. Drain about half the water from the tuna, if canned, and add to pot. Cook another 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.

Now add the sauce. Pour the two cans in and then one more can full of water. Toss the chopped parsley and pepper in there, and bring it to a simmer. Making sure the sauce doesn't stick, cook for about 2 hours.
Toss with shells. I find one pot makes about 3-4 pounds of macaroni.

Serving Suggestions
  • Fresh parmesan cheese makes a big difference. To ease matters, you could grate it ahead of time and serve it in a bowl at dinner.
  • Serve a bowl with extra sauce in it in case anyone wants to add some.
  • Serve water or wine with the macaroni, never milk.
  • You don't necessarily have to use tuna. This recipe can be made with any kind of fish. I like it with salmon as well.
  • Do not under any circumstances add sugar! If you bought sweet onions, there should be no problem. If the sauce comes out bitter anyway, throw in a carrot when cooking, being sure to take it out before serving. Sugar will make it taste nasty, like the stuff you get at the grocery store.
  • If you are genuinely broke, there are substitutions you can make for this recipe to make it dirt cheap. Dried parsley is the easiest. You could also use dried onions, although I find the onions make a bigger difference in the sauce than the parsley. Finally, if you are in desperate straits, dried garlic can be used, but it is not recommended. If using dried herbs, like parsley, remember to crush them in your hand before adding them so they release more flavor.
  • Fish sauces are sauces; meat sauces are called gravies.
  • Some old-school types will try to tell you that you can only stir the sauce one way. That's crazy-talk.
  • I only live with one other person, so when I cook this sauce I divide it up into four portions. Three portions go into Tupperware containers and in the freezer, and one goes on the table. You need only heat the frozen sauce in the microwave (or on the stovetop if you're anti-microwave) when you're ready to use it.