This simple tuna pasta recipe comes together in 20 minutes or less! You'll love the texture and bold Mediterranean flavors thanks to ingredients like garlic, bell peppers, parsley, lemon, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Tuna pasta with peas

Quality canned tuna is the ultimate lazy-girl way to get some fish in your diet. And it can be dinner on busy week nights when you don't have the time to spare!

If you're wondering, "what can I add to canned tuna for dinner?" One easy answer is pasta! And check your freezer and fridge for loan veggies and herbs.

This canned tuna pasta recipe is quick and uses pantry ingredients you may already have on hand. It's not a fancy dinner by any means, but it is absolutey delicious and packed with bold Mediterranean flavors that will please adults and kids alike!

Tuna Spaghetti, Mediterranean-Style

The beauty of this spaghetti tuna recipe is that it features some simple, yet flavor-packed ingredients that fit very well within the Mediterranean diet (and if you are following a strict Mediterranean diet, use whole wheat pasta here).

Here, the tuna pasta is tossed with peas, crispy bell peppers, and some bold Mediterranean flavors, including garlic, lemon, a few kalamata olives (or capers, if you prefer). I like finishing this pasta with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.

True to Mediterranean eating, no heavy, creamy sauces needed, this tuna pasta relies on a bit of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of lemon juice + a bit of the cooking pasta water. (I'm a big fan of olive oil pasta).

The beauty of this one-pan dish is that it really doesn't need anything next to it. But if you like, you can add a big salad to start the meal.

What kind of tuna to use?

I answered this question before when I shared my Mediterranean tuna salad (another great option you should try sometime), but it bears chatting about again here.

Tuna on its own can be a wonderful healthy protein option. It is also nutrition rich, containing B-6, B12, vitamin A, iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids.

There are a couple of kinds out there, white albacore and chunk light, which tends to be too flaky and shredded almost beyond recognition. I mostly turn to responsibly caught Albacore. It is a bit more expensive but it is higher in heart-healthy omega-3 fats.

And then there is the choice between tuna packed in either olive oil or water. If you're concerned about the fat content, your best bet will be tuna packed in water. I've used both in the past, but I do prefer to add my own extra virgin olive oil, that way I can use an olive oil I love and I can also control the amount (here are the olive oils I use).

Mercury levels in tuna can be a health concern, which is why my family consumes tuna no more than once every two weeks. (Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns about eating canned tuna)

ingredients for tuna pasta. spaghetti, tuna, lemon, frozen peas, bell pepper, olives, parsley and jalapeno

Ingredients 

Pantry and freezer staples absolutely shine in this spaghetti tuna recipe. Here are the ingredients:

  • Pasta- I like spaghetti but any pasta you have on hand will do. And if you are following a stricter Mediterranean diet, use whole grain pasta.
  • Tuna- 2 5-oz cans of tuna. If you use quality canned tuna that's packed in extra virgin olive oil, you do not have to drain the tuna. (Tip: give it a little taste before using the oil in this recipe).
  • Frozen Peas- about 1 ½ cups of frozen peas for a pop of green and a little sweetness. You do not need to thaw the peas in advance.
  • Red Bell Pepper- if you don't have red bell pepper, you can use yellow or orange bell pepper which are also sweet and will add crunch.
  • Aromatics and Spices- the flavor makers here include fresh minced garlic, fresh parsley, dry oregano
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil- as there is no sauce involved here, this pasta dish depends on good extra virgin olive oil to bring it all together. I used Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon zest & juice- lemon zest and just a small splash of lemon juice to help the tuna and adds
  • Other flavor makers- kalamata olives and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese to your liking. If you enjoy a little heat, add sliced jalapeno peppers.

My biggest tip: get the pasta water boiling and go prep the rest of the ingredients. You'll have this canned tuna pasta on the table in 20 minutes!

How to Make Tuna Pasta: Step-by-step

(print-friendly recipe with ingredient list below)

This tuna spaghetti takes just a few small steps. Once you cook the spaghetti and peas, you'll combine them with the tuna, bell peppers, and a few flavor makers. Here is how:

  • Cook the pasta & peas. Get a big pot of boiling water going and make sure you season the water well with kosher salt. Drop the pasta and cook for 5 minutes, then drop the frozen peas in to cook along with the pasta for another 4 to 5 minutes or until the pasta is cooked ot al dante (most spaghetti pasta will take about 9 to 11 minutes to cook).
    Keep a bit of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta and peas.
    Pasta and peas in a colander
  • Cook the bell peppers and garlic. In a large and deep pan, sautee the bell peppers in a bit of extra virgin olive oil until somewhat tender, then add garlic and cook until nice and fragrant (this will take only a few seconds, do not brown the garlic).
  • Combine the pasta and peas with the tuna and remaining ingredients. Now just bring this spaghetti tuna party together. Add the cooked pasta and peas. Add in the canned tuna then add all the flavor makers (lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, oregano, black pepper, olives, jalapeno if using, and a big sprinkle of Parmesan).
    Drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil and toss everything together and some of the pasta cooking water. Give everything a toss to combine.
    Tuna pasta in large cooking pan

More Quick Recipes to Try:

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Sheet Pan Chicken and Veggies

Italian Minestrone

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Browse our collection of top Mediterranean diet recipes.

All Mediterranean recipes  JOIN MY FREE E-MAIL LIST for weekly meal plans and more!

4.80 from 55 votes

Tuna Pasta Recipe, Mediterranean-style

Suzy Karadsheh
Tuna pasta with peas
This darn delicious tuna pasta with peas comes together in 20 minutes. You'll love the bold flavors thanks to simple ingredients like garlic, bell peppers, parsley, lemon zest, and a big sprinkle of Parmesan.
Prep – 10 mins
Cook – 10 mins
Cuisine:
Mediterranean
Serves – 5 people (up to)
Course:
Main Course

Ingredients
  

  • ¾ lb spaghetti (or pasta of your choice)
  • Kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal)
  • 1 ½ cups frozen peas
  • Extra virgin olive oil (I use Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into thin strips
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 5- oz cans solid albicore tuna, drained
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of ½ lemon, more to your liking
  • Handful chopped fresh parsley (about 1 ounce)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Black pepper, to your liking
  • 6 to 8 pitted kalmata olives sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (optional), sliced
  • Grated Parmesan cheese to your liking

Instructions
 

  • Bring 3 quarts of water to a rolling boil and add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Cook the pasta in the boiling water to al dante according to package (most spaghetti will cook in 9 to 11 minutes or so). After the pasta has been cooking for 5 minutes, add the frozen peas to cook with the pasta for the remainder of the time. When the pasta is ready, take ¾ cup of the cooking water and set it aside. Drain the pasta and peas in a colander.
  • In a large, deep cooking pan, heat 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil over medium-high till shimmering but not smoking. Add the red bell peppers and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, tossing regularly. Add the garlic and cook, tossing frequently, for 30 seconds or so until fragrant.
  • Now, add the cooked pasta and peas to the pan and toss to combine. Add the tuna, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, oregano, black pepper, kalamata olives, jalapeno if using, and a big sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil and some of the pasta cooking water as needed. Give everything a toss. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
  • Transfer the tuna pasta to serving bowls. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Time Saving Tip: Get the pasta water boiling and begin to prep the rest of the ingredients while the pasta cooks.
  • Cook's Tip: Most spaghetti pasta will take anywhere from 9 to 12 minutes to cook in boiling water. After 5 minutes of cooking, that's when you'll add the frozen peas which will cook together with the spaghetti for the rest of the time. You do not need to thaw the frozen peas before using in this recipe.
  • Cook's Tip: If you're using quality canned tuna that's packed in good extra virgin olive oil, you do not need to drain the tuna. The olive oil from the can will be highly flavored and will enhance this pasta dish.
  • For Mediterranean Diet friendly: use whole grain pasta
  • Visit Our Online Shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including our Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil.

Nutrition

Calories: 374.3kcalCarbohydrates: 58gProtein: 25.1gSaturated Fat: 0.7gPotassium: 456.9mgFiber: 5.1gVitamin A: 1119.5IUVitamin C: 52.2mgCalcium: 42.8mgIron: 2.3mg
Tried this recipe?

*This post was recently updated with more information for readers' benefit.

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Delicious pasta and so refreshing. The family loved it. I didn't have bell peppers and sub it with sundried tomatoes which worked really well. Thanks for a great recipe and so easy to put together.

  2. 5 stars
    Made this for my family last night and it was a hit! Will never do another tuna casserole dish as this recipe takes a tuna pasta dish to the next level- so much lighter and flavorful. Definitely will be a staple in our house!

  3. Dear Suzy,
    How did you know I was wishing for a cookbook? You are a busy girl. Answering emails and writing a cookbook.
    With regards,
    Jane C. Muhonen

  4. 5 stars
    I've been making recipes from your site for the last year or two and every single one has been delicious! I tried this tuna pasta tonight and oh my goodness. SO. MUCH. FLAVOR! So quick and easy too. My husband and I absolutely loved it & I'm looking forward to leftovers tomorrow 😋 Thank you for the amazing, tasty, healthy recipes!!

  5. 5 stars
    I'm so glad I found your website. I have tried lot's of the recipes and I am enjoying my food more than I can remember doing. Made this tonight. Threw some mushrooms in and I loved it. And it was so easy to put together. Loved your Zoom meeting with Sami the other day and I will now be getting his book. Thanks again

      1. 4 stars
        Thanks for making my day+my food more enjoyabled.Am physicallydisabled+hungry for real food w/flavor.I am alone+unable to stand4long+cook safely.Your quick recipes help a bunch !

  6. Hi Suzy! I made this recipe last night and I LOVED it! I love your recipes but this is def one of my faves. It was easy, quick and delicious and the final product looked exactly like the picture. You're instructions are on point! Oh, by the way, I don't eat meat so for Thanksgiving dinner I made your Mediterranean baked cod with lemon and garlic. Yum!

  7. Suzy, Is there an alternative to using pasta in this recipe. Although, I can eat pasta and will make it with the spaghetti. Is there an alternative for someone who can't eat carbs such as pasta.

    1. Hi, Lauren! I'm sure there are some good alternatives, but I've never tried anything else besides pasta here, so I don't really have any specific recommendations.

  8. 5 stars
    I made this last night. It was very good! I buy your EVOO and spices and find your recipes so so good! Its good to eat healthy and love what I am eating! Thank you,

  9. I am anxious to make this but only have fresh cilantro, fresh basil and fresh rosemary on hand....sadly no fresh parsley. Which herb should i sub with? Help! Lol

    1. This recipe is super easy to adapt, Cindy. If you want to use a different protein like chicken, that should work

  10. This is a no brainer recipe. Thank you so much, it is easy to prepare N you don’t have to spend so much time.

    1. I used Cream Fraiche instead of parmesan cheese. I’m planning to add arugula with the leftover for breakfast. I appreciate your healthy recipe. Kudus to you!

  11. 5 stars
    Suzy - another great recipe! I made this last night for the second time and it was even better than my first attempt. Perhaps because I have since gotten your Private Reserve EVOO and used it last night! In any case, it was so quick and easy and so full of flavor. I can't wait to make it again!

      1. 5 stars
        Hello,
        Delicious!!! I love tuna pasta combination. What pasta do you recommend that’s healthy made of whole wheat ? Thanks

      2. Hello, Taruna! There are no hard and fast rules on the brand here. Really, any whole wheat pasta you enjoy will work well here. It's a very forgiving recipe!

  12. 2 stars
    Not a fan. Was somewhat dry and honestly somewhat blah in taste compared to your many other recipes that are great! Won’t make again

  13. 5 stars
    Yet ANOTHER great recipe! So simple yet so flavorful! The olives are the star! What is it about kalmata olives that make everything taste better with them? So good, thank you and happy Easter!!!