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Bringing Sunny Italy to Rainy Amsterdam through Pasta

It poured my last day in Amsterdam. A heavy, drenching rain that signified summer was well and truly over.

I huddled in my brother’s living room, swathed in blankets and looking out over the canals, pondering what to have for lunch on such a stormy, really-don’t-want-to-go-outside day.

My thoughts drifted to a sun-drenched country house outside Bologna, Italy.

I had been there only two days before staying with my dear friend Maddalena and her family. To say that she spoiled me rotten would be putting it mildly: authentic Italian food for every. single. meal. Amazing.

I absolutely loved sitting on the veranda with these people who had opened their home to me and made me feel so welcome.

I peppered Maddalena with questions about Bolognese Italian cooking. I loved learning how to make real Italian minestrone soup and thoroughly enjoyed  real Italian breakfasts complete with pastry and espresso.

I was intrigued to note that nearly every pasta dish I tasted had olive oil as the only sauce. What a revelation! No marinara, no alfredo, no meatballs, just pasta cooked perfectly and tossed with top quality ingredients and numerous glugs of fruity olive oil.

I have two favorite pasta dishes from my time in Bologna, and today I’ll share the one I make most. It is simple as can be and ranks as pure comfort food in my books. The perfect thing to have on a rainy day in Amsterdam.

Put pasta on to boil and while it’s cooking add the following ingredients to a frying pan: tuna packed in olive oil (drained), capers (drained), good quality olives (I like dried black Spanish or Kalamata), and olive oil. Heat through then add to hot, drained pasta. Toss until well mixed, adding enough oil to make pasta glossy but not soupy.

Then curl up on the couch with a steaming bowl of pasta, glass of wine, and a great movie.

What is your favorite pasta dish?

Maddalena’s Pasta with Tuna, Capers and Olives


8 ounce package of pasta (shells, penne, or spirals work well)
1 can tuna packed in olive oil, drained
1/4-1/2 cup capers, drained
1/4-1/2 cup olives (dried Spanish or Kalamatas are great)
olive oil


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. In frying pan heat 2-3 Tbsp olive oil. Add tuna, capers and olives. Cook until heated through, stirring often.
  3. Drain cooked pasta and toss with tuna mixture. Add 2-3 Tbsp olive and mix until well incorporated. Serve hot.
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Mulberries, Pasta, and Lemongrass Iced Tea » Rambling Tart - […] up was making pasta. Oma’s recipe is simply 1 egg per cup of flour. We made a 5 cup batch using Oma’s free […]

Jen Laceda - Oh ok, I’m officially hungry – and it’s past midnight here in Toronto, Canada! Love that first photo of Amsterdam (I seriously miss this city!). I wish I had a house boat – are they very expensive?

Krista -  Oh thanks, Joanne. 🙂 It really was the only thing to do. 🙂

Krista -  Oh, me too, Anji!! It is so delicious and comforting. 🙂

Joanne - I love how you turned your rainy day upside down with sunny memories. That’s really the only way to go.

Anji - I could eat pasta day and night! I love it so much! 🙂 It’s great that we can enjoy foods from our hometowns in a different country! 

Krista -  Thank you, El. 🙂 It was the best thing on that cold afternoon. 🙂

El - Beautiful dish. Perfect way to spend a rainy day.

Krista -  Mary, that means so much to me. I’m so glad this is a peaceful place for you. 🙂 XO

Mary Bergfeld - Your blog has become my secret garden. I love to visit here and enjoy the serenity and beauty of your posts. Not to say the wonderful recipes you so generously share with us. The pasta looks wonderful. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

Krista -  I had spaghetti bolognese for the first time in GERMANY of all places, Hila. I’ve never made it myself, but I’d love to learn. 🙂

Krista -  You are so right, Stevie! 🙂 I just found some wonderful new olives that I can’t wait to try. 🙂

Krista -  Oh dear Chaya, I am SO glad you are part of my world. 🙂 XO

Hila - I also associate pasta dishes with comfort and warmth. I wish I had a friend in Italy to spoil me with great Italian food! I’m not very good at cooking in general, but I make a mean spaghetti bolognese.

Chaya - I always find beauty here.  You see beauty in everything and bring it to us.  You have a gift and I am happy to be a recipient of this gift.

Stevie - This is the best!  We eat something similar at home from time to time.  The keys are the olives and the tuna.  Only the best works.  Yum!

Krista -  Isn’t it wonderful, Linda? 🙂 Just writing about it made me crave it something fierce. 🙂

Krista -  Oh, me too, Rosa. 🙂 It is pure comfort food to me. 🙂

Krista -  Ohhh, rotini would be a very good choice with this, Margaret. 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

Krista -  I’m SO glad you like it, dear Maddie! 🙂 I cannot wait to come and stay with you, and hopefully by then I’ll know at least a little bit of Italian. 🙂 xo

Krista -  Yes, we most certainly shall, dear Val. 🙂 And one day soon we will both be back there, right?! 🙂

Margaret Saccone - We just made and had this delicious pasta, with rotini, they worked well too! So many thanks for posting this!

LindyLouMac - Yes that would be a favourite of ours as well:)

Rosa May - Lovely pasta dishe! I adore Italian food.



Maddie - Oh Krista, thank you so much for beeing so kind to us ! I love this piece you’ve written, and we’ve loved SO MUCH having you as our guest! come and visit us whenevr you like! 🙂

bellini - Looks like we will continue to dream of Italy on these in-between days here in Canada too.

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