In this era of gustatory one-upmanship, if you can’t cook an expertly sauced bowl of al dente pasta from scratch, you can’t call yourself a real man. Which is why we enlisted Stanley Tucci, the actor who plays Julia Child’s husband in Julie & Julia and co-directed, co-wrote and stars in the foodie cult hit movie Big Night, to help us out with date night. Imported Italian canned tuna is the secret to his can’t-fail sauce. “People go, ‘Really?’ ” says Tucci. “But then they try it and it’s so sweet and just so fucking delicious.”

Serves 4
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup coarsely chopped onion
4 cups canned whole plum tomatoes (about one 35-ounce can)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 fresh basil leaves
1 six-ounce can Italian tuna, packed in olive oil
1 lb. spaghetti or linguine

Spaghetti con Pomodoro e Tonno
This recipe was adapted from The Tucci Cookbook, a new collection of family recipes. Proceeds benefit the Food Bank for New York City.

  1. Warm quarter cup of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about three minutes. Add tomatoes, crushing them well with the back of a slotted spoon. Season with salt and pepper and stir in basil. Simmer over medium-low heat until slightly thickened, about 25 minutes. Drain half the olive oil from canned tuna and pour the other half into sauce. Flake tuna into tomato sauce. Cover and simmer to heat through. Remove from heat and set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, then toss pasta with remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Add about three ladles of sauce and continue tossing. Distribute evenly among four dinner plates. Ladle remaining sauce on top.

Stanley’s guide to your own big night

Sarah Rutherford

“The fig is so vaginal. I suppose if you had figs and a phallus of salami that would be the perfect, extremely suggestive appetizer.”
“Because the sauce has tuna in it, you shouldn’t serve anything heavy. And tomato wants to be paired with something red.”
“I like jazz, particularly from the 1950s. You can’t go wrong with Louis Armstrong. He spans such a long time and diversity of music.”