Mary’s Pasta Tonnata

My Mom and Dad came down this Sunday to visit with Stax and Me… and even though they won’t admit it, Batman and Lester too.

Mary and Dora

I was glad they were able to come down and see some of the progress I’ve been making.

I’m very lucky to have their support.

This weekend, that support came in the form of a very long brunch and several mimosas… so I didn’t have much time to cook.

Turns out, Grandma Mary had my back.

She had the perfect recipe for a quick and delicious meal.

Six ingredients and 20 minutes later I had Grandma’s Pasta Tonnata

Ingredient list

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can Italian Tuna in olive oil
  • 3 basil leaves
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt/pepper




First, arrange your ingredients on a board and take a really nice picture.

It helps if you have a very talented wife with a nice camera, but you don’t have to be married for this to work.




Slice your garlic, I didn’t mince mine and left them in fairly big slices (The recipe didn’t specify and I was lazy) which ended up being really nice.

Chiffonade your basil and mash those cherry tomats.




Heat up a small pan and drizzle a bit of olive oil. You can also pour it, but I was feeling fancy.

Toss in your sliced garlic and two pinches of red pepper flakes.

I let the garlic get a bit toasty before tossing in the tuna.



Toss in your tuna (drained) and break it up in the pan.

Not looking to brown the tuna or anything, just make sure it’s not too chunky when you throw in the tomatoes.



Add your tomatoes, basil, and salt & pepper to the pan and let simmer.

While you’ve been doing this, hopefully, you were cooking some pasta but if you weren’t you can do that now.



Add your al dente pasta and finish cooking it in the tonnata sauce

(you can use any you like, but the penne rigate worked well for me) 

It won’t take too long, be sure not to overcook the pasta.


Annnnnnd that’s all there is to it!

All you have left is to plate your pasta under good lighting and your tripod for the picture and then you can eat.


I don’t remember eating this while I was growing up. Most meals at the Big 4’s two flat were pretty large ordeals, so maybe this was just too simple.

I’m not sure, but I really enjoyed making it.

My Grandma was a pretty amazing woman. She was smart, funny, and so loving. We lost her when I was much younger, so sadly, my memories of her aren’t quite as good as I wish they were.

I think she’d be really happy to see that we’re still making and enjoying the same recipes after all these years.

These recipes and pictures are turning out to be really special.

Kisses Yall



Mess Hall

toddagarcia View All →

I'm an acting/improvising optimizing son of a gun.

I've been living and working and performing in Chicago since 2005. I love to eat, travel, talk and make people laugh. So for me this blog stuff is pretty neat.

I also like you. Whoever you are. I like you. For coming to my blog and sharing in my thoughts. I appreciate you. And I think you're hot. So here's to you, readers of my blog. Thanks for being awesome. Share and share a like!

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