There’s nothing better than this delicious Tuna Pesto Pasta Recipe for tuna lovers who also love basil pesto! Despite its simplicity, this dish is quite tasty and perfect for busy weeknights It’s incredibly easy to make with pantry staples and ready within 20 minutes.
Why You’ll Love This Dish
- This pasta dish is amazing for tuna lovers.
- A great way to add more protein to your diet.
- Easy to make with simple pantry ingredients.
- A great option for an easy weeknight meal option.
- It takes about 20 minutes to make this pesto pasta with tuna just like most of my pasta recipes shared on this blog.
- Best of all, it requires just a few ingredients to make. So this pasta recipe is cheap and economical for the whole family.
What Makes This Recipe an Easy Dinner?
This recipe requires just five key ingredients, four of which are staples in most kitchens. Pasta, canned tuna, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and basil are what makes this dish special. And while there are many ways to cook pasta, this one-pot meal takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. You could even serve it warm or cold, giving you the option of making the whole thing ahead of time.
Ingredients For Tuna Pesto Pasta
Spaghetti – though this dish was made with spaghetti, check out the recipe tips below to see what other types of pasta work for this dish.
Can of Tuna – it’s best to use canned tuna chunks in oil for this recipe. Flaked tuna chunks can add more oil to the dish than necessary. Also, pesto already contains a lot of oil so be careful about that.
Basil Pesto – there are different kinds of pesto but I find that basil pesto tastes amazing in combination with tuna. There are homemade pesto recipes online but using a high-quality store-bought one is just fine.
Capers – adding some capers to this recipe takes the flavor profile to another level. The tangy, lemony flavor is not to be missed. An optional addition is kalamata olives.
Red Onion – red onions are very flavorful and sweet when fried properly so it’s an integral part of this recipe. As an alternative, use shallots.
Garlic – whether chopped or minced, adding fresh garlic is an important part of this pasta recipe.
Olive Oil – needed to fry the onions, and garlic and to start the base of the tuna pesto sauce.
Red Pepper Flakes – it adds some heat to this dish and you can use as much or as little as you can tolerate.
Fresh Basil – optional garnish.
Salt and Black Pepper – addition as a flavor enhancer.
Step-by-step guide for pesto tuna pasta
- Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Once it has gotten bubbly hot, salt it, add spaghetti, then cook according to package directions or until tender but firm.
- On medium heat, add some olive oil, then the chopped onions and minced garlic to a large skillet. Fry for 1-2 minutes while stirring.
- Sprinkle pepper flakes, black pepper, and capers over the mixture and stir-fry for another 30 seconds.
- Reduce the heat under the skillet to low. Add tuna chunks to the pan. Carefully use the cooking spoon to flake the tuna chunks into smaller pieces. You can make them as small or as large as you like. Stir everything together to mix well.
- Add the basil pesto and the cooked pasta to the sauce along with a little pasta water and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to thicken up for a minute before serving.
Helpful tips for making this easy tuna pesto pasta
- There are a variety of pasta types that can be used for this dish. Pasta such as angel hair, spiral pasta, and bowtie pasta can be substituted for spaghetti if you don’t have any.
- Cook the pasta al dente to achieve the best texture.
- Make sure you save the pasta water for making the sauce. Additionally, if the sauce consistency is too thick, you can add more pasta water to loosen it up.
- To make this dish, canned chunks of tuna work best. There is a possibility of consuming more oil in this dish if you use flaked tuna since it is not easy to separate the tuna flakes from the oil.
- Save some starchy pasta water to loosen up the sauce.
What Type of Canned Tuna Should You Use?
Go for a can of red tuna chunks in oil – extremely easy to find in a grocery store. Skipjack tuna, Albacore tuna, or yellowfin tuna would work as well. As mentioned earlier, flaked tuna in oil will definitely add more oil to this dish than necessary except you don’t mind that at all. Pesto also contains some oil which is why we start the sauce with just a tablespoon of olive oil to control the overall oil quantity.
What Type of Pesto To Use?
Basil pesto or pesto alla Genovese is very fragrant and delicious. It contains garlic, pine nuts, salt, extra virgin olive oil, and parmesan cheese so you can imagine how powerful the flavor must be. Using a high-quality store-bought pesto works just fine but you can make your fresh pesto at home by combining those ingredients and giving it a quick blitz in a food processor.
Which Pasta Goes Best With Pesto?
It’s best to serve pesto with a longer pasta shape like fusilli, which is shaped like a corkscrew. Pesto complements Bucatini, Capellini, thinner spaghettini, and Fettuccine – a similar box of pasta.
What To Serve With This Tuna Pesto Pasta
There are so many choices of what you can pair this dish with but my favorite is simple salads like a Greek salad, garden salad, or kale beetroot salad. Go easy on the dressing to keep this dish light and healthy as much as possible.
How To Store and Reheat
Once the tuna pesto pasta has cooled down completely, store it in an airtight container. Also, using food storage containers make with glass help preserve the quality and taste of food. This dish is one you can just toss in a microwave for a couple of minutes to reheat. However, not that the quality of pesto changes if it gets cooked so the taste of this dish can be slightly altered from when it was first made.
Other Simple Pesto Pasta Recipes To Try
- 8 oz. Spaghetti
- 7 oz. Canned Tuna Chunks
- 1/2 cup Basil Pesto
- 1 tbsp. Capers
- 1/4 cup Red Onions, chopped
- 2 tsp. Garlic, minced or chopped
- 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
- 2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 tbsp Salt
- 1 tsp. Black Pepper
- Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Once it gets bubbly hot, add salt and spaghetti and cook till done but firm. Or follow package instructions if you are unsure.
- Place a skillet over medium-high heat and then add some olive oil, followed by the chopped onions and minced garlic. Stir fry for 1 and a half minutes. Add pepper flakes, black pepper, and capers and stir-fry everything for another 30 seconds.
- Reduce the heat under the skillet to low. Add tuna chunks into the pan. Carefully use the cooking spoon to flake the tuna chunks into smaller pieces. You can make them as small or as large as you like. Stir everything together to mix well.
- Add the basil pesto and the cooked spaghetti to the sauce along with 1/4 cup of pasta water and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to thicken up for a minute before serving.
1. Other types of pasta can also be used in this dish. If you don't have spaghetti, angel hair pasta, spirals, and bowtie pasta are some examples you can opt for.
2. Remember to save the pasta water for the sauce. Also, you can add more pasta water to loosen up the sauce if you find the consistency too thick for your liking.
3. Using canned tuna chunks works best in this dish. Using flaked tuna may add in more oil than necessary to this dish because it is a bit difficult to separate the tuna from the oil.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 353Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 2143mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 19g
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Kitchen On The Avenue makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.