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Spicy Italian Mackerel Spaghetti

Courtesy Stephanie Harris-Uyidi
Cook Time:
20 mins
Prep Time:
10 mins

Chef notes

As a member of the tuna family, mackerel is a delectable, yet underrated fish that deserves more attention! A firm, high-fat fleshed fish, it's known for its bold, savory flavor. Tinned mackerel is popular throughout the Mediterranean in places like Italy, where it's referred to as sgombro (Atlantic mackerel) and enjoyed in sandwiches, salads and right out of the can.

Swap option: In most cases, you will find tinned fish boneless and skinless, but if you prefer, you can buy it intact. It will be labeled accordingly. Tinned sardines in olive oil will work equally as well for this dish.


  • 6 ounces tinned mackerel in olive oil
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons capers in brine, drained
  • 1 pound whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup wild arugula or spinach, rinsed and chopped
  • 4-5 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped (or left whole, if desired)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese



Place the mackerel and its oil in a large bowl. Flake the mackerel, add the diced tomatoes and capers, and set aside.


Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions, drain and place in the bowl with the mackerel; the warmth from the pasta will help the flavors blend.


Add the olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, tomato sauce and arugula or spinach and kalamata olives. Toss and taste. Adjust seasoning as needed.


Finally, toss in the freshly grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.