This easy tuna pasta recipe uses pantry staples and can be on the table in about 15 minutes. You won’t believe the flavors in this fast and inexpensive dinner!
With prices through the roof, I think we are all looking for ways to save money on our grocery bill. This recipe for canned tuna pasta uses affordable ingredients that you probably already have on hand – and not only that, it is so fast to pull together. This is for the nights you have no idea what to make for dinner and nothing in the fridge.
Ingredients for tuna pasta
- Solid White Albacore Tuna packed in oil – Albacore is the best tuna, and doesn’t have a fishy flavor at all. Tuna packed in oil has more flavor. If you go with tuna packed in water, be sure to drain the water off so it doesn’t water down the dish.
- Pasta – I’ve used spaghetti here, but any kind of pasta will do.
- Olive oil – Extra virgin olive oil to bloom the flavors and add richness.
- Lemon – We use both the zest and the juice to really make the flavors pop.
- Garlic – one clove finely minced – I use a garlic press. This sauce doesn’t cook long, so the garlic flavor will be strong.
- Capers – If you aren’t familiar with capers, they may seem like a specialty ingredient. But you can usually get a small jar for $2-$3. They really make this dish special, but you can leave them out if you want. Or use chopped green olives.
- Parsley – I prefer flat leaf Italian parsley.
- Salt – The capers and tuna may be a bit salty, but this dish is still much better after salting to taste.
Tips for making Tuna Pasta
- This recipe is comes together very quickly, so it is best to have all the ingredients prepared and measured before starting. This can all be done while the water for the pasta is heating up. Cooking the pasta is actually the part that takes the longest!
- Using both lemon juice and lemon zest really increases the flavor here – I use my microplane for this. It’s hands down one of my favorite kitchen tools.
- Start with a cold pan, add the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes, and allow them to slowly heat up. This will really infuse the olive oil with the flavor of the garlic and red pepper flakes. When the garlic is fragrant, add the capers, lemon juice and zest, salt and parsley.
- These don’t need to cook very long, just enough to let the flavors bloom in the heat and mingle together.
- The key to this recipe is to not cook the tuna, because it is already cooked. So after the other ingredients are quickly heated, we remove the pan from heat before adding the tuna. The pan will still be hot, so the tuna will warm up just enough without overcooking.
- Then, add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. And it’s done! Here is another tip – taste it now, and add more salt if needed. This makes a huge difference and will prevent you from ending up with a bland dish.
More Inexpensive Recipes
- 6 oz tuna albacore, packed in oil
- 8 oz spaghetti
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- the zest of one lemon
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp capers
- 1/4 tsp Red pepper flakes
- 2 TBSP Chopped parsley
- Prepare pasta according to package instructions until al dente. After draining, toss in a little olive oil to keep it from sticking.
- Into a cold sauté pan, add olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes. Turn heat to medium, allow to slowly warm up. Stir until occasionally until garlic becomes fragrant and starts to sizzle.
- Add capers, lemon zest and juice, salt and parsley, cook for about 2 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat, add tuna. Stir until tuna is coated with the sauce.
- Add the cooked pasta and toss until everything is combined and coated with sauce. Taste and add more salt if needed.
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