This pesto tuna pasta is a great mid-week meal! This light dish will work well as a dinner (eaten hot) or as a packed lunch (eaten cold). Follow this recipe and up your lunch game!
What do you need to make this easy pesto tuna pasta?
This simple tuna and zucchini pasta recipe is made mainly of basic pantry ingredients and added fresh vegetables for extra flavor and moisture.
Firstly, you will need pasta. Short pasta shapes such as farfalle, fusilli or penne are great. You can also use leftover (pre-cooked) pasta for this recipe.
Secondly, finely dice courgette (zucchini). Courgettes are summer vegetables similar to squash but are widely available across supermarkets throughout the year. You will also need an onion with a little bit of rapeseed oil. Use red onion for more colorful results.
Then prepare two handfuls of cherry tomatoes and cut them in half. I recommend buying cherry tomatoes in winter as they usually have more flavor than shop-bought salad tomatoes (or plum tomatoes). They will only need a few minutes on the stove to soften up. Don't overcook them.
Tinned tuna in brine, spring water, or olive oil is one of the key ingredients of this dish. Remember to drain it properly before mixing it with the pasta. One 150g can of tuna is sufficient for 3-4 portions of this meal.
Mix all of the ingredients with red pesto for an extra delicious taste and attractive glaze. Feel free to use classic Italian red pepper and sun-dried red pesto or chili pesto.
Decorate the dish with fresh rocket leaves and sprinkle with shaves of Grana Padano or parmesan and add a juicy wedge of lemon.
Can you swap any ingredients in this tuna and pesto pasta?
Yes, also you can substitute several of the ingredients in the recipe!
Swap red onion for brown onion or shallot, and rapeseed oil for sunflower or vegetable oil or basic olive oil (not extra virgin one).
If you don't have courgette, broccoli will do just as well. Remember to cut it into small bits (dices 1x1cm) that cook quicker.
Use baby plum tomatoes or chopped salad tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes.
Finally, when you add tuna pesto to the dish, you can skip adding tuna tin and red pesto separately - some shops sell this pesto ready-made and it's a brilliant shortcut!
How to store this tuna and courgette pasta meal?
When you are batch cooking this pasta dish in advance, let the food cool down, place it in an air-tight container and store it in the fridge for up to 2 days.
This pasta meal is not suitable for freezing.
Tuna and zucchini pasta works for various occasions
Eat it hot or cold
- Served cold: Take it out of the fridge 30 mins prior to serving, so that it reaches room temperature, stir the tuna pesto pasta salad with the sauce before dishing up plates or bowls.
- Served hot: Serve on a microwavable plate and reheat in the microwave for long enough until the food is piping hot - this will depend on your microwave settings and power.
It's more than a lunch
As I mentioned at the beginning, this wonderful pasta meal will be a fantastic addition to your menu, whether you are looking for some quick home-cooked lunch options when working from home or when you want to surprise your dinner party guests.
However, you can also take it with you in a reliable and airtight food container - it is a fab lunch meal and a total picnic star!
Also, remember those smaller pasta portions your local Italian restaurant offers as a starter? Why not do the same? Serve it as a starter (entree, appetizer) on a dessert or small serving plate - and you will look like a pro!
Lastly, this tuna and pesto dish tastes perfect when it's hot. That is your mid-week dinner sorted!
📖 The Recipe
Pesto tuna pasta recipe
- 200 g dry short pasta penne, fusilli or farfalle
- 3 tablespoon rapeseed oil
- 1 red onion peeled and finely diced
- 1 (250g) courgette (zucchini) cut into small bits
- 200 g cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 150g tin tuna chunks in brine or sunflower/olive oil
- 4 teaspoon red pesto
- salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- 2 handful fresh rocket leaves
- 60 g Grana Padano or parmesan cheese to shave or grate
- 1 unwaxed lemon cut into wedges
- Fill a stockpot with at least 2l water, season with salt, cover and bring to it boil. Cook the pasta according to instructions on the packet. Drain and cover again.
- Add rapeseed oil to a large frying pan. Set on medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion and fry for about 3-4 minutes or until the onion is soft and glossy (translucent).
- Add the courgette (zucchini), toss and fry for another 5 minutes.
- Add halved cherry tomatoes. Toss again, cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.
- Drain the tuna chunks over a sieve with a fine mesh. Add it to the pan. Add red pesto, toss thoroughly and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Take the pan off the heat. Stir in the cooked pasta.
- Season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with rocket leaves, a few shaves of Grana Padano or parmesan cheese and a wedge of lemon. Enjoy!
- Red onion for brown onion or shallot.
- Courgette for broccoli cut it into small dices.
- Baby plum tomatoes or chopped salad tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes.
- Tuna pesto instead of tuna tin and red pesto.