Tuna Pesto Pasta is super quick and easy weeknight dinner using just 5 ingredients! The stars of the show are shelf-stable ingredients that make it that much easier to store in your pantry for the fastest hardy dinner in under 15 minutes!
When I'm not making this easy fish recipe, I'm making this tuna fried rice, this healthy salmon pasta without cream, or this flavor-rich baked fish with olives and artichokes that gets my mouth watering every time I say it.
Or this spicy baked salmon sushi that's a quick canned fish and rice recipe that's perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.
Tuna has always been a staple in my pantry for those busy days where I have less time in the kitchen. With extra canned tuna, whip up this tuna fried rice recipe that's packed with flavor! If you're not sure on how to choose the best tuna, refer to this best canned tuna on the market article.
Pesto makes a great pairing with tuna, and comes together beautifully with a pop of fresh cherry tomatoes and fresh shaved cheese, which is completely optional. I also like adding a sprinkle of red pepper flakes if you don't mind a little kick, I highly suggest it!
Table of Contents
WHY I LOVE THIS RECIPE
- SIMPLE! It's incredibly easy to make, requiring only 15 minutes of your time from start to finish.
- Only 5 ingredients!
- Leftovers are just as good! Meal prep them for a few days, or have it the next day for dinner.
- Serve it warm, cold, or at room temp. It's all just as delicious!
- Tuna is extremely versatile, and a great source of protein in so many meals. And, whether you prefer tuna packed in oil, or tinned tuna in water, this pesto pasta with tuna is going to be delicious!
This recipe uses just 5 ingredients that work beautifully together to create an easy simple, yet scrumptious meal.
I'm using high-quality tuna packed in water. I used 4 cans for this recipe, each being 3.5 oz. Tuna comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, so as long as you're somewhat close to the measurements, this dish will come out great.
You can also use canned tuna packed in oil to add more flavor.
Use your favorite pesto for a quick meal. You go the store-bought route, or make your own. Since pesto will be the main source of flavor, opt for a brand you know a love. I like using Basil Pesto from Costco or Trader joes.
Other types of Pesto to try:
- Garden Herb Pesto
- Walnut Pesto
- Or try this Mediterranean Chimichurri for an extra kick of garlic and spice!
Choose a fun colorful pasta to have a fun twist on this super Easy Pesto Pasta. I like using pasta over spaghetti. Especially because the pasta, tuna and tomatoes can have an even role in showing up on the same bite.
Make sure to reserve a bit of pasta water to use along with pesto.
FRESH CHERRY TOMATOES
Fresh tomatoes add a much needed pop of freshness that plays beautifully with the tuna. During tomato season, I love picking out the tomato medley, where you can add yellow, orange or red tomatoes to provide a nice pop of color. However, off season, let the fun pasta play a bigger role in the esthetic.
And let's not forget the cheese! A sprinkle or two of fresh shaved Parmesan helps bring out the flavor of the pesto even more.
If you're not a fan of parmesan, go for asiago, or manchego.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS
- First thing you'll need to do is cook the pasta to al dente, then drain and add back to the pot.
- Now, it gets even easier. Gently stir in the pesto to the pasta, then the tuna.
- Scoop out each serving onto your pasta plate.
- Sprinkle with cherry tomatoes and parmesan to serve, along with black pepper and red pepper flakes if desired.
- Serve Tuna Pesto Pasta at room temp, or warmed up!
- More Herbs
Add a handful of fresh basil. It will be both beautiful and bring out the basil pesto flavor, a little more.
- A Little Kick
If you're like me, you like almost everything to have a little kick to them. By adding a sprinkle or two of red pepper flakes, your dish will truly come alive! It's amazing how a touch of spicy can transform a bite.
- Flavored Tinned Tuna
If you've never try smoked tuna, or tuna packed in oil and lemon this is a great opportunity to give them a try.
- Creamy Pesto Pasta with Tuna
Add a touch of cream, a drizzle of olive oil to make it creamy.
- Try it with Chimichurri Instead of Pesto
This Mediterranean Chimichurri recipe has an extra kick of garlic and spice. It makes a great pasta salad dressing if you want extra flavor. Though this Tuna Pesto Pasta recipe is great, if you're not a huge fan of pesto, definitely give this Chimichurri a try!
MY EXPERT TIPS
- Don't overcook the pasta. Cook to al dente, or just tender.
- Choose a Pesto you love!
- Go for high-quality tinned tuna.
- Don't skip out on the added ingredients.
- Serving this tuna dish cold, warm or at room temp are all great options! I suggest trying warm on a cold day, and as a salad on a warm day.
You can use either tuna packed in oil, or packed in water. I prefer packed in oil when I have it on hand. It provides more fat and flavor with little to not added effort. Drain the liquid well before mixing canned tuna into the rest of the ingredients.
I prefer to add pesto to warm pasta. It helps melt the pesto and distribute it better. If it's warm vs cold it will mix much better.
WHAT GOES WELL WITH PESTO PASTA WITH TUNA
Charcuterie. Serve alongside. Feel free to add Artichoke hearts and Kalamata olives to the pasta if they're on your charcuterie board.
Rosemary Parmesan Bread would go SO well with this dish!
Drink: Pair this recipe with this Spicy Mango Margarita! Or try a dry white wine, like a Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon blanc. Cheers!
MORE SEAFOOD PASTA RECIPES
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Tuna Pesto Pasta
- 16 oz pasta *reserve ½ cup of pasta water
- 14-16 oz canned tuna , I used 4, 3.5 oz cans
- ½ cup pesto , use your favorite
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
- ¼ cup shaved parmesan or manchego
- First, cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water, then drain and add the pasta back to the pot.
- To the pasta, add the pesto and pasta water, and gently stir to combine. Then, add in the tuna and gently combine.
- Serve the pasta on a pasta plate, or bowl.
- Sprinkle with cherry tomatoes and parmesan to serve, along with black pepper and red pepper flakes if desired. Serve at room temp, or warmed up!