Tuna Pesto Pasta
This is a tasty, nutritious and ridiculously easy 15-minute pasta recipe. All the ingredients are pantry-cupboard staples making it a great option for those days when you are low on supplies or simply don't have time to cook. Pesto and tuna are a very tasty combination and are also packed with protein and healthy fats that will keep you full for a while. This versatile pasta dish tastes great with green veggies and can be eaten hot or cold, making it an ideal make-ahead meal or packed lunch option.
The post contains additional information and helpful tips to ensure the recipe turns out great the first time. Please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end if you are in a hurry!
- Quick - you can rustle up a bowl of tuna pesto pasta in 15 minutes. Tasty meals do not get much quicker than that.
- Uses just 5 pantry ingredients - all you need to make this recipe is pasta, pesto and tuna. Everything else is optional.
- Easily customisable - this recipe works well with most pasta types. I often add spinach, but peas, broccoli or beans are all solid choices. You can also omit the green veg if you prefer.
- Delicious and satisfying - pesto and tuna make a yummy pair, but they also provide a good dose of protein and healthy fats that will keep you full for a while.
- A great make ahead option - pesto tuna pasta tastes great cold, so is ideal for a packed lunch. You can also reheat it if you prefer.
🛒 Ingredients and variations:
This super simple recipe uses just 5 everyday ingredients. If you have tuna, pasta, and pesto in your cupboard you've got yourself a 15-minute meal. I add a little anchovy paste and spinach, but this is optional. You can choose another type of green veg or omit the veg altogether.
- Tuna - I use canned tuna stored in spring water, but you can use tuna stored in oil if you prefer.
- Pasta - choose any pasta shape that takes your fancy (or that you have in stock). I usually opt for penne or fusilli but linguine, spaghetti, tagliatelle or farfalle will also work. You can also switch out the pasta for farro or brown rice for a healthier option.
- Pesto - use jarred, fresh or make your own. The amount of pesto you need will vary depending on the type and brand you use as well as your personal preference for how much pesto flavour vs tuna flavour you want.
- Spinach - because a meal just doesn't feel complete without veg, but this is optional. You can omit it and still have a very tasty plate of pasta on your hands or swap it for another type of green veg such as beans, kale or broccoli. Frozen peas or petit pois also work well if you don't have any fresh green veg in stock.
1. Cook the pasta
Fill a large saucepan with water, bring it to boil, salt generously, and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
Top tip: reserve a little pasta water before draining the cooked pasta. You can use this to add a little additional moisture to the dish if needed.
2. Prep the spinach and pesto
Mix the pesto, tuna and optional anchovy paste in a bowl and set aside.
3. Wilt the spinach
Set the drained pasta aside, place the saucepan on a medium to low heat, add the spinach and cook until wilted. Then remove from the heat and stir in the tuna and pesto mixture.
4. Add the pasta
Take the pan off the heat and add the cooked pasta, mix, add a small amount of the reserved pasta water if the pasta needs a little extra moisture and serve immediately.
- Salt the pasta water generously - the water you cook the pasta in should taste salty like the sea. You may feel like you are adding a lot of salt but remember that most of it will go down the drain when you strain the cooked pasta.
- Reserve a little pasta water - set a couple of tablespoons of the starchy pasta water aside before you drain the pasta. You can add this to the pan just before you come to serve the dish if the pasta requires a little extra moisture.
- Adjust the amount of pesto - the amount of pesto you will need will vary depending on the brand and type of pesto you are using. For example, I find I often need more fresh pesto than I would jarred pesto to get the pesto flavour I desire. You can always add a little more pesto if you don't feel you have quite enough.
How much pesto should you add to pasta?
This can really vary depending on the type and brand of pesto you are using. Jarred pesto tends to have a stronger flavour than fresh. You may find you need up to half as much as you would with fresh pesto. You will also find that different brands of jarred pesto vary in the strength of flavour and salt content. It's best to add a smaller amount and taste. You can always add more if you need to. 4 tablespoons should be enough for 2 portions of pasta.Should pesto be refrigerated?
Fresh pesto should always be stored in the refrigerator. Jarred pesto does not need to be stored in the refrigerator until after it has been opened.Is pesto healthy?
Pesto contains a small amount of vitamins and minerals. It is also a good source of antioxidants, which can lower your risk of chronic health conditions such as heart disease and cancer. Pesto is quite high in fat, however, these fats are the healthy unsaturated kinds found in plants and nuts.
Tuna pesto pasta can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days and enjoyed cold or reheated in the stove or in the microwave. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months but will lose its freshness. It only takes 15 minutes to make, so it is best to cook up a fresh batch.
😋 Check out my other speedy pasta recipes
Pasta is quick, easy and super versatile. The number of yummy options means that it never gets boring. If you liked this pesto tuna pasta, you should try these other pasta recipes. They can all be made in 30 minutes or less - ideal for those days when you need a quick lunch or dinner.
Sage Butter & Walnut Pasta
Spanish Sardines Pasta
Red Pesto Pasta
Zucchini Mushroom Pasta
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Tuna Pesto Pasta
- Sea or kosher salt for cooking the pasta
- 200g (or 7oz) pasta (Note 1)
- 70 to 130g or (¼ - ½ cups) pesto (Note 2)
- 160g (or 6oz) canned tuna
- ½ tsp anchovy paste (optional)
- 120g (or 4oz or 4 cups) baby spinach (optional)
- Place a pan of water on a high heat and salt generously. Add the pasta when the water starts to boil and cook according to the packet instructions.
- Meanwhile, mix the tuna, pesto and optional anchovy paste in a bowl.
- Reserve 1-2 tablespoons of pasta water before draining with a colander.
- Set the cooked pasta aside, place the pasta pan on a medium to low heat (or use a new pan if you prefer), add the spinach and cook for a couple of minutes until wilted.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pesto, tuna and anchovy paste mixture.
- Add the pasta and mix thoroughly. Add a little of the reserved pasta water if the pasta looks like it could benefit from some additional moisture.
- Serve immediately with freshly ground black pepper.
- Use any pasta shape of your choosing. I often use penne or fusilli. Spaghetti, linguine or tagliatelle will also work well.
- The amount of pesto you need will vary depending on whether you are using jarred or fresh pesto, the brand you are using and your personal preference for how much pesto flavour you desire.