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Tuna and Olive Pasta recipe

Tuna and Olive Pasta recipe

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

This is a super-delicious pasta dish that everyone will enjoy. Enjoy with garlic bread and salad, if desired.

19 people made this

IngredientsServes: 8

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 125g chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (185g) tin tuna packed in water, drained
  • 1 (400g) tin whole peeled plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 85g black olives, halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 800g tomato puree
  • 450g uncooked vermicelli pasta
  • 40g grated Parmesan cheese for topping

MethodPrep:10min ›Cook:40min ›Ready in:50min

  1. Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic; cook until tender. Mix in tuna and tinned tomatoes; cook until heated through. Mix in olives. Season with basil, oregano and pepper. Cook and stir 5 minutes. Stir in tomato puree. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Place pasta in pot and cook 4 minutes or until al dente. Serve topped with the sauce and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(17)

Reviews in English (16)


Wow, this sauce was very bland, but has potential. I made a few changes for improvement to perhaps 3.5 - 4 stars. The changes are in lieu of the original ingredients. Use: 1.) 12 oz. Solid White Albacore; 2.) 14.5 oz can Hunt's Diced Tomatoes, undrained;3.) Use 8 0z. chopped black olives; 4.) use 3 cloves pressed garlic cloves, 1 tsp dried basil and 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes;5.) Add 3 TBS capers (these really make a difference!); and6.) Top with grated Romano cheese for extra flavor.Allow flavors to blend in refrigerator before serving.-20 Mar 2006

by Susan

Even though I made a few minor changes, I gave this five stars because it's a great basic recipe - it's simple, easy, and a big hit with my family. And I always adjust recipes to suit my own taste, anyway. I added rosemary, capers and sea salt. I had no tomato puree, so I used crushed and whole tomatoes, broken up (with a pinch of sugar). It's important to use the solid white, not chunk light tuna. I used 12 oz of solid white and didn't add it until cooking was almost done, so that it would not disintegrate. I was very liberal with the olive oil and garnished with lots of fresh basil.-13 Jun 2008

Tuna Pasta with Olive Oil and Garlic

You know when you walk in the door after a long day traveling or working, tired and very, very hungry?

Maybe you just order takeout and move on, because chances are the only things in the fridge are shriveled limes and moldy cheese.

But that’s never a recipe for happiness.

Times like that call for a well stocked pantry, which always has your back.

That’s when this easy tuna pasta recipe aglio e olio will feel like a lifesaver!

The whole point of having a well-stocked pantry is to be prepared for cooking.

It’s definitely not fun to overthink dinner in order to make something on the fly — the whole point is to nourish yourself deliciously, and the sooner the better.

My mother made a version of tuna pasta for us almost weekly when I was growing up, and I’ve always loved it.

She kept it much simpler by using solid white canned tuna, linguine or spaghetti and chopped parsley.

But it always had lots of olive oil and slivers of toasted garlic in it – so savory and delicious!

It’s been one of my favorite easy pasta recipes forever.


  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound curly pasta such as fusilli
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 12-oz. can oil-packed chunk light tuna, drained, flaked
  • ½ cup pitted black olives, chopped
  • ½ small red onion, sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until tender, about 12 minutes, or as package label directs.

In a bowl, whisk oil, lemon zest and juice and 1/2 tsp. salt. Drain pasta add to bowl with dressing. Add tomatoes, tuna, olives, onion and parsley and toss well. Let cool to room temperature, season with salt and pepper, if desired, and serve.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 (5 ounce) can tuna packed in olive oil, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ pound spaghetti
  • ½ tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add tuna with oil, capers, and crushed red pepper flakes heat through.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water for 1 minute less than the package instructs, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water.

Add the cooked pasta to the pan and mix to combine. Add some of the pasta water and toss lightly until the pasta is tender yet firm to the bite, 1 to 2 more minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately.


First drain the oil from the tin of tuna into a saucepan, heat it gently and fry the onion and garlic until softened.

Then add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Now pour the tomatoes into the pan, add the tuna, tomato puree and basil, then cover and cook for a further 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced to a nice consistency. Next add the olives, taste, and season with salt and pepper.

Cook the spaghetti for 10-12 minutes in plenty of salted water, drain and toss a little butter in. Then season well with salt and pepper, and serve the spaghetti topped with the sauce and have some freshly grated Parmesan to go with it.

Creamy Tuna Pasta Recipe

I recently made my own version of tuna pasta after all the hype was actually over. It happened on a very busy day when all I had in “my office” aka the apartment I used to live in, but now I only work at and looks like dirty on steroids, were some cans, quick cooking macaroni and a bunch of older citizen vegetables. Oh, and some Philadelphia cream cheese that I had opened weeks ago to make cream cheese carrot cake muffins. Surprising to nobody it was still good. The mold did not want to go near those preservatives. Talk about wanting to be immortal, Philadelphia cream cheese…

So I basically grabbed all I had in the fridge and made this meal. Surprisingly, I held myself back from putting in my usual 4 cloves of garlic that have become my go-to in 2020. And it was a good decision. How about we make some more vision boards and decade reviews. I mean, you can’t help but look at all that December 2019 content and laugh and cry at the same time.

This pasta makes me wanna cry too. It’s gone. And it was so delicious, like amazing. I would honestly make this every day, but then I’ll have mercury poisoning and insulin resistance and these don’t cancel each other out. So I decided I’ll just have the memory 6 days a week and the real thing on day 7.

How To Make Tuna Pasta

Wash and chop all the vegetables that you want to use in your tuna pasta.

Saute the vegetables in a nonstick pan with some olive oil, salt and minced garlic and cover with a lid, cooking for 5-6 minutes.

In the meantime, Mix your tuna with lemon juice and a little bit of chili powder (if desired).

Add the pasta to the pan and 1 cup of water. I used macaroni and they cook in around 3-4 minutes. If you’re using other types of pasta – cook your pasta in a different pot before adding it to the pan. Make sure the pasta still needs 2-3 minutes more to cook through, so that it doesn’t get mushy.

Stir in the tomato paste and pesto.

Add another clove of garlic and the tuna.

Stir in the cream cheese, add some black pepper and water if needed. Cover with a lid and cook for around 2-3 more minutes.

Stir in some fresh basil and serve immediately.

I hope you enjoy this “clean your fridge AND pantry” quick dinner recipe!

Pasta al Tonno (Pasta With Tomatoes and Tuna) Recipe

Why It Works

  • Toasting whole garlic cloves in olive oil lends the sauce a subtle allium aroma without distracting from the main flavors of the dish: bright tomatoes, savory tuna, and refreshing parsley.
  • Gently incorporating large flakes of tuna into the sauce at the end of cooking ensures that the fish remains distinct, and doesn't break down into an unappealing paste.
  • Finishing the pasta in the sauce ensures that the noodles are well-coated and al dente.

Labeling a dish "pantry-friendly" has become a selling point of late, even though it's a pretty vague term that often doesn't account for much of the cultural or culinary diversity that influences what fills our kitchen cupboards. The shelves of a well-stocked Jamaican pantry will look much different from those in a Korean household. But philosophically, the premise of a pantry-friendly recipe is universal: a simple, ideally quick-cooking dish, primarily composed of non-perishable ingredients. In Italy, where I grew up, pasta al tonno fits that criteria to a T.

Pasta al tonno is pretty self-explanatory—it's pasta, with tuna—and a large part of its appeal is its adaptability. Unlike iconic pastas such as carbonara, there's no prescriptive yet heavily debated ingredient list that you'll get in trouble for deviating from when making this dish. You can find it "in bianco" (no tomato) with canned or fresh tomatoes with olives with capers with anchovy with chiles with garlic or onion (but usually not both) with parsley or basil. Canned tuna and dried pasta are the only nonnegotiables.

No matter what, pasta al tonno has to be "facile e veloce" (easy and fast) to prepare. The version that I grew up with in Rome features spaghetti tossed with a quick garlic-infused tomato sauce. It gets a touch of heat from dried peperoncino, and is finished with flaked olive oil–packed tuna and a handful of chopped parsley.

It's a simple and delicious balancing act between the brightness of tomatoes and the savory depth of canned tuna. Think of it as a less briny and divisive cousin to puttanesca. If you were to add porcini mushrooms to the mix you'd have a bowl of Roman-style spaghetti alla carrettiera. It's easy to see all the exciting possibilities for riffs and variations.

Unlike puttanesca or carrettiera, though, this pasta al tonno doesn't involve the punchy and intense flavors of capers, olives, and dried mushrooms that can hold their own against the bite of minced garlic. Here, whole garlic cloves are lightly crushed, browned in olive oil to more gently infuse it with their allium aroma, and then removed and discarded before building the tomato sauce. This is a classic Italian maneuver for getting some, but not too much, garlic flavor into a dish, when aglio e olio aren't the stars of the show.

With the garlic out, a little dried chile goes in, followed by hand-crushed whole peeled tomatoes (this sauce is meant to have some texture to it, not passata smoothness). The sauce simmers for the few minutes it takes to boil pasta (spaghetti or, even better, spaghettoni, are my shape of choice for this dish) a minute shy of al dente. Right before making the pasta to sauce transfer, large flakes of tuna are stirred into the sauce along with an optional dash of fish sauce for a small umami boost. Folding the tuna into the sauce at the end ensures that it doesn't get overworked into a gummy paste, keeping the pieces of fish intact.

The pasta and a ladleful of cooking water are added to the mix to finish cooking, marrying the noodles and sauce. This is a quick finish, with the sauce acting as more of a dressing to the pasta rather than the gravity blanket embrace of gricia, 'nduja sugo, or starchy beans and greens. A showering of chopped parsley brings some much-needed freshness to the party, and that's all there is to it—another pantry pasta to add to your repertoire.


    • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (preferably Sun Gold), halved
    • 6 ounces olive oil-packed Italian or Spanish tuna, drained
    • 1/2 cup black olives, pitted, torn (about 2 ounces)
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
    • 1 pound thin spaghetti
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Tuna Pasta Ingredients:

In this post, I will show you that a good pasta recipe doesn't need a long list of ingredients to make it scrumptious.

To make this Tuna Pasta, you will need canned tuna, fresh lemon, extra virgin olive oil, butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, garlic, and red chili pepper.

Canned tuna is a staple pantry ingredient. You'll be surprised how it can quickly transform this simple meal into a fancy dinner and full of flavors! The lemon makes canned tuna taste better!

Recipe Summary

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 pounds mild peppers, such as bell, sweet, and banana, stemmed, seeded, and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces (4 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins, chopped
  • 3/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 1 basil sprig, plus 1/3 cup fresh leaves, sliced if large
  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 1 jar (6 to 7 ounces) tuna in oil, drained and flaked
  • 2 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (1 cup)
  • 1 finger pepper or other hot pepper, thinly sliced into rounds or 1 dried hot pepper, such as cayenne, crushed

Heat a large straight-sided skillet or shallow pot over medium. Swirl in oil. Add onion, mild peppers, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have collapsed and are tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, raisins, olives, and basil sprig. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have collapsed and release their juices, and sauce thickens to a stew-like consistency, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove and discard basil.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a large pot of generously salted boiling water until al dente, about 2 minutes less than package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain. Transfer spaghetti and 1/2 cup pasta water to skillet with sauce and continue cooking, tossing a few times, until sauce thickens slightly and clings evenly to pasta, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add tuna, half of cheese, and finger pepper, tossing until evenly combined. Add more pasta water, a little at a time, until sauce evenly coats pasta again. Stir in basil leaves and serve, topped with remaining cheese and a drizzle of oil.

Here’s a “shortcut” meal that takes as long as it takes to cook 3/4 pound of penne pasta. It’s quick, easy, and delicious, and if there are any leftovers, you’ll have a great lunch the next day.

When I need to make something quick for my girls, this is one of the recipes I reach for especially since I usually have all the ingredients in the pantry.

The idea for this recipe originally came while my wife and I were on our honeymoon in Italy years ago. We visited my sister-in-laws friends who lived in Rome and invited us over for dinner.

They made this dish with Italian jarred Italian tuna, fresh artichoke hearts and olives that they just brought back from Sicily while visiting family.

As simple as this dish was, it was one of the best meals my wife and I had on our entire honeymoon trip and that’s including some very nice restaurants. I think it had something to do with being in someone’s home, sharing a meal with new friends and being on an adventure.

Shortcut Meal

The reason I call it a shortcut meal is because I used canned artichoke hearts instead of fresh and I’m sure this pasta dish would even be better with fresh artichoke hearts, but I needed to prepare this in a hurry.

I also used a jar of solid tuna imported from Italy and a can of artichoke hearts imported from Spain. The artichoke hearts should be packed in water, not oil. Both these items were picked up at an Italian specialty store.

UPDATE 11/13/14 – I now like using frozen artichoke hearts that I pick up in our local supermarket or Trader Joe’s. I think they may be a little more flavorful.

There is really nothing to cook but the pasta. Oh yeah, I did sauté some garlic in the oil the tuna was packed in. The rest of the ingredients just need to be heated up while the pasta is cooking.