Traditional recipes

Tuna and fennel pasta bake recipe

Tuna and fennel pasta bake recipe

  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Pasta
  • Seafood pasta
  • Tuna pasta

Simple to make and very tasty. Serve with a salad or some veggies on the side for a complete and satisfying meal.

Lancashire, England, UK

2 people made this

IngredientsServes: 2

  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 60g mature Cheddar cheese
  • 1 tin tuna chunks in brine (about 120g drained weight)
  • 125g pasta (I use fusilli)
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 300ml semi skimmed milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornflour

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:45min ›Ready in:1hr5min

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C / 180 C fan / Gas 6.
  2. Peel and finely chop the onion. Crush the fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar. Grate the cheese. Drain the tuna and flake the chunks.
  3. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for about 10 minutes until al dente. Drain and tip into a bowl.
  4. Whilst the pasta is cooking, boil some water in a small saucepan and hard boil the eggs - about 5 minutes. Drain and cool in cold water. When cool enough to handle, shell and quarter the eggs and add to the bowl with the cooked pasta.
  5. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onions until translucent. Add the ground fennel seeds for the last minute of cooking to release their flavours and aroma. Add to the pasta in the bowl along with the flaked tuna.
  6. Mix the cornflour with about 1 tablespoon of the milk. Heat the remaining milk in a small pan until boiling point. Remove from the heat, stir in the cornflour mixture and return to a lower heat, stirring continuously until thickened. Stir in the cheese until melted and add the sauce to the other ingredients in the pasta bowl. Mix all of the ingredients together until well combined and tip into a baking dish, level the surface.
  7. Bake in the middle shelf of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until browned and bubbling. Serve at once.

Recently viewed

Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(0)

Reviews in English (0)

Tuna-and-fennel pasta

Separate the tuna into large flakes and set aside. Cut the fennel in half, then slice thinly into half-moons.

Gently cook in the oil until very soft and limp. Stir in the garlic, tuna and a little seasoning. Pour in the stock and cream and bring to a bubble. Add the lemon juice.

Stir in the drained, hot pasta and check the seasoning. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately. Pass around the Parmesan at the table.

Cook's note: This pasta is totally effortless and rewarding. The distinctive anise-like flavour of the fennel becomes more mellow as it cooks and marries perfectly with the salty tuna.

Recipe by: Phillippa Cheifitz View all recipes

Regular TASTE contributor Phillippa is a well-known South African author and food writer, and has won many awards, both for her magazine features and her cookbooks.


  1. Tuna Salad:
    • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon (or 2 teaspoons dried)
    • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
    • 2 (6-ounce) cans tuna in olive oil, drained
    • 1 small head fennel, chopped
    • 2 ribs celery, chopped
    • 1/2 of a small red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  2. Salad Mix:
    • 1 pound mixed greens (romaine, butter lettuce, radicchio, and arugula) or spring mix
    • Tuna Salad
    • 1 red or orange bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
    • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives

Tuna bake

1. Preheat the oven to moderate 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of rapidly boiling water until al dente. Drain well. Lightly grease a 2 litre ovenproof dish. Combine the egg, spring onion, dill and lemon juice, and season.

2. Melt 60 g butter in a saucepan, add the curry powder and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the plain flour and cook for 1 minute, or until foaming. Remove from the heat, gradually stir in the milk and cream, then return to low heat and stir constantly until the sauce boils and thickens. Reduce to a simmer for 1–2 minutes, then stir in the mayonnaise. Combine the sauce, cooked pasta, tuna and egg mixture, and spoon into the prepared dish.

3. Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan, add the breadcrumbs and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, or until the crumbs are golden and coated in butter. Stir in the parsley and grated Parmesan, and sprinkle over the tuna mixture. Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until golden and heated through.

Notes about this recipe

Member Rating


Member Indexed

This recipe has been indexed by an Eat Your Books Member.

Where’s the full recipe - why can I only see the ingredients?

At Eat Your Books we love great recipes – and the best come from chefs, authors and bloggers who have spent time developing and testing them.

We’ve helped you locate this recipe but for the full instructions you need to go to its original source.

If the recipe is available online - click the link “View complete recipe”– if not, you do need to own the cookbook or magazine.

If you browse through my pantry, you would always find a bag of dried cannellini beans, but sometimes also borlotti beans, or red beans from Lucca, or fagioli del purgatorio, smaller and creamier than cannellini. If I feel like splurging on my supplies, I would treat myself to a bag of fagioli zolfini, zolfini beans, the most delicate, creamy and expensive beans from Pratomagno, near Arezzo, in Tuscany. They are known as zolfini as their yellowish colour reminds that of sulphur, which is zolfo in Italian, hence zolfini.

Along with beans, I feel the urge to stock my pantry with dried chickpeas and lentils, even though beans are definitely the most used pulses in my family.

After an overnight soak, I simmer the beans on the lowest flame for about 2 hours – sometimes more, sometimes less, it depends on the beans – until buttery and soft. Then I simply drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. I usually cook a large batch of beans that lasts for a few days: I make salads with them, soups, or typical recipes like fagioli all’uccelletto.

When we make pizza, or bake bread in our wood burning oven, I always cook a pot of beans. After my dad removes all the coals from the oven, after having baked bread or a cake, at the end of the day I stash in the oven a pot of dried beans – no soaking required in this case – with plenty of water. I keep them in the oven overnight to cook. In the morning, you’ll find the creamiest beans you have ever tasted, they only need a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and salt.

Now, let me be honest, and human.

Nothing beats dried beans, baked in a wood burning oven or soaked overnight and simmered with herbs and garlic, true, but in my pantry, I always keep jars of cooked beans and chickpeas. I buy Italian, and when possible organic, pulses. They saved more than a dinner with an impromptu hummus with raw vegetable sticks, pasta e fagioli or, a classic, a tuna and bean salad.

6 The party bites: Polpette di tonno: 24p a patty

Not unlike other meatball and croquette concoctions, this quintessentially Venetian cicchetto is all about transforming humble, inexpensive ingredients (stale bread, potato and tuna) into morsels that are far more tempting than the sum of their parts.
Valeria Necchio, food writer

Makes 18 (total £4.25)
300g floury potatoes (24p)
60g crustless white bread (3p)
60ml whole milk (5p)
200g tuna in oil, drained weight (£1.25)
2 tbsp parsley, chopped (36p)
1 large egg (23p)
25g anchovy fillets, chopped (83p)
80g breadcrumbs (4p)
Salt (2p)
Sunflower oil, for frying (£1.20)

1 Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water. Drain and cool slightly before peeling and mashing them with a fork.

2 Soak the bread in milk and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Squeeze out any excess liquid, then add to the potatoes and stir to combine.

3 Drain the tuna and flake it with a fork. Add to the mash together with the parsley, egg, anchovies, ¾ of the breadcrumbs and some salt. Stir until you have an even mixture. You can do this in a food processor or blender for a smoother result if you so wish. Rough is nice, too.

4 Grab a large spoonful of mixture and shape it into a patty. Roll it in breadcrumbs and put it on a tray lined with parchment. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.

5. Three-quarter fill a medium, high-edged frying pan with oil and put it on a medium-high heat. When it reaches 180C/350F, drop in a first batch of polpette and fry until deep golden, turning them to cook evenly. Drain with a slotted spoon and lay on kitchen paper. Repeat with the rest of the patties. Serve hot, sprinkled with salt.

Canned Tuna Shines in These 12 Recipes

Tuna occupies an odd spot in the American food consciousness—we tend to think of it as either a humble canned good, bone-dry and flavorless unless it's cut heavily with mayo, or a luxury seafood to be consumed mainly in the form of sushi or sashimi at Japanese restaurants.

But given the relative ease these days of finding high-quality, oil-packed imported canned tuna, incorporating the pantry-staple version into your cooking is more appealing than ever. (If you're concerned about eating sustainably, and/or mercury contamination, you'll definitely want to do your research before buying any kind of tuna to learn what species are best for you and the planet.)

To inspire you to get tuna out of the sad-lunch realm and into your roster of exciting dinner possibilities, we've assembled a list of 12 recipes calling for canned tuna, from a deliciously salty, savory spaghetti puttanesca to deviled eggs with confit tuna and tomato.

Fennel pasta

When it comes to quick, impromptu meals, pasta is a true life saver! It is versatile, filling, comes together quickly and always tastes good.

And no, I don’t agree with the opinion that it’s an unhealthy thing to eat – especially when prepared without lashings of butter, heaps of Parmesan or buckets of cream – not that I’ve ever been a fan of creamy pasta sauces anyway.

Take this simple fennel pasta, for example. Apart from charred fennel, it gets its flavour from sweet Greek tomatoes, capers, olives and a handful spices. It’s vibrant and super tasty. It’s finished with some fresh parsley and toasted pine nuts for an extra crunch.

Yes, I did use some olive oil to bring the sauce together but no more than a vinaigrette-style salad dressing would call for so I don’t know about you, but I eat pasta like this regularly and do not beat myself up about it at all.

PS: If you do make this fennel pasta, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram (#lazycatkitchen). I love seeing your take on my recipes.


This recipe looks delicious! I really would like to try it but I only have a ‘high’ pressure cooker, with just one setting. Can I modify the recipe somehow to account for that? Just bringing it up to pressure for two minutes instead of 4 maybe? I’m really new to this whole ‘pressure cooking’ thing so maybe there’s something I don’t know…

You’ve got the right idea. Reducing the cooking time is the right way to go if you cannot reduce the pressure. Try this recipe for 3 minutes at high pressure and see if you like the result!

Is there a standard chart to which I can refer for general pressure/cooking time relationships?

Pasta is tricky, but other ingredients are more predictable. Click on the link at the top of the page (under the hip pressure cooking logo) called “cooking times”.

This was my second attempt at pressure cooking and i failed miserably! I released the pressure after 3 minutes but it wasnt cooked, so i returned to heat and bought it back to pressure for another 3 minutes but ended up with a burnt bottom and pasta was still undercooked! Does this sound like not enough water?

I just got my cooker yesterday and was feeling very uninspired with everything i found on the web untill i found your sight which has filled me with hope … i just obviously have to get the hang of it!

Welcome stephnz! Pasta and sauce recipes in the pressure cooker are a little advanced for someone who JUST started pressure cooking as you have.

Thankfully, I have a way for you to become more familiar with your pressure cooker. Under the “learn to” menu at the top of the page is a beginner pressure cooking course (shortcut: It’s designed to get you to know your pressure cooker, then with simple can’t-fail recipes that explain everything you need to know about your pressure cooker.

After the beginner check-list, the first recipe is boiled potatoes. You CANNOT fail there. Promise.

In my experience, I have had to keep stirring the dish until it reaches boiling and then lock the lid down to avoid burnt bottoms. If you have released the pressure and have the lid off, it might be a good time to give everything a good stir.

Thanks Laura! I have been reading through the beginner section this afternoon and am just about to try the potatoes now! I’m realising i jumped in at the deep end a little bit … i just got lucky when my first attempt was a rissoto that turned out amazingly and i got over confident! Back to basics now! Your creme caramel recipe might just have to wait!

You can make the flans, just read the Bain Marie lesson carefully before starting.

This recipe flirts with the minimum water requirements of the pressure cooker so it’s a tricky method. BTW, what kind of pressure cooker do you have and, if it’s stovetop, what kind of cooktop are you using it on?

P.S. Great advice from Pentaquark – the cooker can scorch WHILE it’s reaching pressure but not during. So bringing the contents to a boil without the lid is a great way to ensure the cooker will reach pressure quickly and not have a chance to even THINK about burning.

New to the site today. Have had a pc for years but only use it for Christmas puddings and stews! Saw this recipe and got really excited, went straight out and bought the ingredients and cooked it tonight. Husband (a pasta fanatic) was really impressed, worked perfectly although large portions! Will make again with variations as the method was perfect. Well done and look forward to tring the other recipes

So glad to read that your pasta-fanatic husband was impressed!

You can halve the recipe and the cooking time and liquid (water to cover) remain the same. That’s the beauty of this method – it will work in any size and shape cooker and always perfectly cook the pasta.

Many of my Italian friends that have introduced to this technique now do not cook their short pasta any other way!

I’ve made this twice and now feel capable of providing some guidance (at least for the US audience).

Here in the US, we’re constantly exposed to flavorings, flavor “enhancers”, etc. we’re accustomed to bold flavors and…this recipe doesn’t deliver that. It’s not the fault of the recipe but rather that we have different expectations. Here is what I did (and comments):

I increased the garlic from one clove to 3. And they were large cloves. I chopped them roughly to increase surface area.

The anchovies are overwhelmingly important to this dish. If you don’t use them now, you should. They provide an excellent “background” flavor that can’t be duplicated any other way. And, they don’t taste like anchovies in the finished dish.

US tomato sauce has salt added unless it specifies otherwise I’ve never seen an Italian brand in the US that lists salt as an ingredient. Be mindful of this before adding salt.

Like a previous poster mentioned, I experienced scorching on my first attempt (I use an induction cooktop). The second time, I brought the ingredients to boiling, while stirring, and then put the PC lid on. Problem solved.

In my experience, when Italians think the pasta is cooked Americans think it’s still raw. I cooked the pasta for twice the time stated and still wanted it cooked further. The link that shows cook time as half the stated on the package should be followed (or more): US cook times are higher than those stated on pasta packages in Italy.

I believe that pasta sauces in Italy are called “condiments”. In other words, they are a light addition to enhance the pasta, which is the main event. Here in the US, it’s the opposite. So, this recipe, for me, turned out to be bland. By adding a generous amount of parmesan (not the green can kind!!), and upping the amount of capers, I turned out a dish that my family enjoyed. It was certainly not true to the original, but was altered to suit our Midwestern-US origins.

Great tips! I come to the U.S. for one month each summer and since this is a family favorite I’ve made it several times with the local ingredients. I want to emphasize the use of tuna in oil – even if it’s not olive oil – because the flavor will be MUCH improved.

I made this recipe with Whole Foods tuna in water and the dish was nearly tasteless. Then, I tried this with Tuna in Olive Oil that I found at a nearby Trader Joe’s and… WOW what a difference in flavor!

I support your suggestion to use a good Italian tomato puree – one that does not contain corn syrup, sugar or salt. The only ingredient should be tomatoes.

While in Toronto (Canada) to film an infomercial the grocery store that I was taken to by the producers did not have any of these kinds of tomato puree’s. However, I did find tomato paste with nothing but tomatoes. Tomato paste is just double or triple concentrate of tomato puree with all of the water evaporated. I just diluted it to the right consistency before recording and the pasta dish did not only come out perfect – when the cameras stopped rolling everyone on the set went thought it was delicious, too!

I had two quick questions:

When you say tomato purée, do you mean passata? This is a kind of blended and sieved tomato mixture that is widely available in the UK and it generally has no other ingredients but tomato. What we Brits understand by tomato purée is the kind of concentrate you describe that was available in Canada and it comes in a tube usually. Two cups of that would be a lot indeed…

And when you say to put the contents of the first tuna can into the pot, do you mean to include the oil?

Very grateful in advance for your comments before I try this one!

Yes puree (as it’s called in US) is equivalent to passata and Americans call the concentrated tomato product tomato paste. The way the recipe is written you drain the oil from one can and use the oil from the other. You can keep both or drain both – according to your dietary needs. It will still taste good! : )

Thanks! One further question. Does this work for the Instant Pot? Mine doesn’t have a low/high pressure setting… :S

Which Instant Pot model do you have? All of them, except for LUX have a “high” and “low” pressure. Yes, it works. Make sure to bring the sauce to a boil before stirring in the pasta and follow the directions for electric pressure cookers (extra 1/2 cup of water).

I made this as written and I loved the flavors and the fact that the pasta was al dente, so I would recommend that users use their own judgement.

Oh, yes, ABSOLUTELY use tuna packed in olive oil. I never use water-packed because it is indeed tasteless (and also mealy and dry). The Trader Joe’s brand is very good and there is a brand called Genova that is much more widely available.

Made this for the first time tonight in my electric pressure cooker after a hectic long weekend. Didn’t have the exact components so instead I used tomato and basil pasta sauce, large tinned spring water tuna and large seashell pasta. It took a bit longer to cook with the seashell pasta. I also got distracted when I turned on the cooker and instead cooked it on high for 5mins, pasta wasn’t cooked enough so put it back on for another 5 and it was good to go! I also added more garlic and an onion, didn’t add the capers as I didn’t have any. Next time though I would add more anchovies. My fiancé was very impressed I was able to throw so tasty together so quickly. Makes for a nice change from mushroom risotto :) Will be stocking up on more tuna and pasta purée tomorrow

I have been wanting to make this recipe for awhile, but knew it wouldn’t be the same without the anchovies, so had to wait until I could get some at the store. I finally had a chance to make it the other day, and I thought it was great! Great flavor, excellent texture. I was worried that the pasta would get gummy, but it was perfectly al dente. I thought it had just enough of everything – granted, I tend to eyeball measurements rather than measure exactly, so I can’t say that I used exactly what the recipe called for – but I thought it was wonderful and didn’t have to add anything to it once it was done! I couldn’t find tomato puree, but subbed no salt added tomato sauce instead, and it worked well. I worried that it may be a little runny, but it was perfect. So excited to try more recipes! Just ordered your new cookbook, too. Can’t wait for September to get here now!

To the person with the high pressure only cooker, its really tricky to time things like pasta or some veggies that cook really fast. At 15# pressure they cook extremely fast. Once pressure is reached, it is as Laura suggests only like 3 minutes. Adjust from there, more or less time according to your idea of doneness. And personally I prefer pasta cooked in open pot rather than PC. Pasta doesnt really take that much time even without PC.

To the person burning/scorching stuff. The way I cook most grains, beans, etc in pressure cooker is to put in the bottom trivet thingie, add about inch water, then set in a stainless steel bowl. Put the the actual food you are cooking in this bowl. For every cup of grain or beans add one and half cup water to the stainless steel bowl. Cook for appropriate amount time. For long grain brown rice, its around 12 minute at 15#. I usually cook one cup brown rice, one cup millet, and one cup lentils together and couple whole potatoes. They all cook in same time.

This results in near perfect “fluffy” rice/millet/lentils with no water left in stainless pan, but still water in the bottom of pressure cooker. Other grains similar with no scorching or other problems.

I would like to take credit for this great technique, but saw it on youtube sometime back by some old survivalist guy using his $5 thrift store PC. Use this technique and you can cook perfect rice in even cheapest lightest gauge PC with no worry of scorching or running out of water.

Delicious! This recipe worked great for me. I followed it pretty much to the letter, but my package of pasta was only 12 oz, not 16 oz. Next time I might reduce the amount of tomato puree a little bit to compensate. The sauce was a little heavy in relation to the amount of pasta. But the pasta was cooked perfectly and the flavor was great. So easy.

I’m glad it worked out for you, Maggie! I agree that you should reduce a little bit of the tomato sauce – however pressure cooked pasta has a STRONG tomato flavor since it absorbs the sauce not just water.