Grab a can of tuna, a can of tomatoes and a packet of pasta from your pantry. Toss them together with a few other simple flavours. Within 15 minutes you’ll have a tasty and healthy meal on the table that everyone will love!
So you thought you’d left tuna pasta behind with your student days? Think again! I’ve added a delicious lemony, Mediterranean twist to this simple and yet elegant version of a classic quick, easy and economical meal.
What’s so great about THIS tuna pasta recipe?
Do a search for tuna pasta and you’ll find hundreds of different versions. Here’s why I think this lemony Mediterranean tuna pasta’s worth your time:
- It’s essentially a pantry meal – perfect for those days when there isn’t much left in the fridge.
- It’s very quick and easy to make and can be on the table in around 15 minutes.
- It uses just a few simple ingredients, but is extra tasty. Lemon, cinnamon, basil and 2 cheeses – parmesan and feta – take it to next level deliciousness.
- Admit it – you have various odds and ends of pasta in your pantry. This is a perfect recipe for using them up. I’ve called it tuna spaghetti, but really you can use any kind of pasta.
- It’s a crowd pleaser! Young or old, everyone in your family is likely to enjoy this flavourful meal.
About the ingredients
Pantry essentials: spaghetti (or any kind of pasta – you’ll see I used tagliatelle in my photos here), a small can of tuna (it goes a long way in the sauce!), a can of tomatoes (I prefer cherry tomatoes, but any tomatoes are fine)
Fresh ingredients: both the zest and the juice of a lemon for a nice hit of lemon flavour, a chopped onion, a couple of cloves of garlic and some fresh basil or parsley
Other herbs and spices: ground cinnamon (trust me), dried herbs, plenty of black pepper, a pinch of chili flakes or half a chopped chili if you like
cheeses: a handful of parmesan to mix in with the sauce, and some feta cheese for some extra Mediterranean tang
How to make it
After you’ve prepared all your ingredients, this can be on the table in around 15 minutes. Put the water on to boil for the spaghetti and by the time the pasta is cooked the tuna tomato sauce can be ready too.
Here are the basic steps:
Step 1: Cook pasta. While it’s cooking, make the sauce.
Step 2: To make the sauce, soften onion and garlic. Add dried herbs and spices.
Step 3: Add tomatoes and let simmer with a bit of water for a few minutes.
Step 4: Stir through tuna, lemon (both zest and juice!), cheeses and any fresh herbs. Add optional spice!
Step 5: Transfer pasta straight from the water into the pan. Serve and enjoy!
- The key to getting a thick, glossy sauce (instead of a watery one) is to use small kitchen tongs to transfer the spaghetti straight out of the cooking water and into the pan that you’ve cooked the sauce in.
- As a follow on from the above, once you’ve added the pasta add a bit more cooking water to get the consistency just right.
How to serve it
Serve the pasta immediately while the sauce is still glossy. Sprinkle with a little extra parmesan and fresh basil if you like.
It’s delicious served with a fresh green salad and olive oil toasts on the side. Or just serve it as it is.
When eating up some of my son’s leftovers, I discovered that this tuna spaghetti also tastes pretty good cold. Leftovers would make a great school or work lunch!
More easy pasta recipes
- 15-minute creamy pesto chicken with mushrooms and parmesan (I usually serve this with tagliatelle!)
- If you’re loving the Mediterranean style of this recipe, try this 20-minute lemony Mediterranean tuna pasta too.
- 6-ingredient sausage pappardelle bolognese (recipe includes a stove top or pressure cooker version)
- creamy chicken and mushroom pappardelle
- quick tagliatelle in a cherry tomato, chorizo and cream sauce
- lemony asparagus and prosciutto pasta (this one’s great for spring!)
Or take a look at all my pasta recipes.
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20-minute lemony Mediterranean pasta
Ingredients (UK/Australia? Click below for grams/ml)
- 5 ounces spaghetti (or linguine, tagliatelle, or any other pasta)
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon mixed Italian herbs (or choose 1: thyme, oregano, basil)
- 1 can cherry tomatoes (14-ounce or 400-gram can) Ordinary canned chopped tomatoes are fine too
- 1 pinch chili flakes (optional)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 6.5 ounces tuna (1 can or 185 grams) Drained. I usually go for tuna in spring water or in olive oil
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese grated
- ½ bunch fresh basil plus a little extra to garnish (or parsley if basil isn't available)
- salt and pepper to taste
- ⅓ cup feta cheese crumbled or cubed (around 50 grams or 1.75 ounces)
- fresh green salad and toasted bread with olive oil and salt (optional)
- Cook the pasta according to the cooking instructions.
- Meanwhile, soften the onion in a little olive oil in a frying pan or large saucepan. After a few minutes, add the garlic and cook for a minute longer. Then add the cinnamon and dried herbs and cook for another few seconds.
- Add the tomatoes and around half a cup of water to the pan. Simmer for around 5 minutes or until the sauce has reduced slightly and the pasta is cooked. Stir in the honey.
- Now stir in the tuna, lemon zest and juice, parmesan cheese and fresh herbs. Grind in some salt and black pepper to taste.
- Use kitchen tongs (or a slotted spoon if not using long pasta) to lift the pasta straight out of the water and into the tomato sauce. Add the feta cheese. Stir well, adding a ladle or two of pasta cooking water if needed.
- Serve into bowls immediately. Sprinkle with extra parmesan and fresh herbs if you like.