Pasta with tuna, parsley, olives and lemon


tunapasta6I had my last day of teaching this past Thursday, the end of my first year in a new job. I feel euphoric(!) – so pleased to be done with teaching and administrative duties for the time being, and to finally be able to work on my own stuff (Academics are a weird breed; we are grateful to have more time to work).

Anyway, these last few weeks have left me feeling spent, and I’ve been reaching for dishes that don’t require a trip to the grocery store, yet that don’t scream “PANTRY.” It is very, very likely that you will have most of these ingredients sitting around (I know I do). I love this recipe because it is all about combining staples–like olives, tuna, and pasta–with a generous dose of herbs, acid, and freshness, making this light and delicious. And you probably don’t need to leave the house!

A few tips, though: buy absolutely the best tuna that you can (sustainably caught, in olive oil, preferably from a jar rather than a can. I couldn’t find tuna in a jar, so I bought an expensive can of sustainably caught albacore tuna in olive oil.) Also, you are welcome to make your own breadcrumbs (they take exactly 8 minutes), but since I was feeling exceptionally lazy, I just used Panko breadcrumbs that I had lying around, and they worked beautifully. Third, I am a big fan of whole wheat pasta, but with this recipe, I think you really have to go the white pasta route. There are just too few ingredients here to disguise a chewy whole wheat pasta (but feel free to try if you are committed to it!)




Serves: 2

Time: 15 minutes


Approx. 200 gms. spaghetti per person 

20~ olives (I used a combination of green and black, but use whatever you have)

1 can/jar tuna fish

2 cups flat leaf parsley, chopped

3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs, lightly browned (you can also make fresh breadcrumbs by putting two slices of bread in a food processor, adding a dash of olive oil and pulsing. Then toss into the oven on 350 F for 6-8 minutes)

The zest of 1 lemon + its juice

1 tbsp. olive oil (preferably extra virgin)

1 cup pasta water (reserve before draining the pasta)

Generous grind of pepper

  1. Put the water for pasta to boil. Once it’s boiling, salt generously, and add in your pasta. Keep track of the cooking time (it will vary according to the package). In another small saucepan, add your breadcrumbs and brown lightly. Or make your own breadcrumbs (see above).
  2. In a separate bowl, assemble the rest of the ingredients: chop the parsley none too fastidiously, add the lemon zest and lemon juice, and olives. Mix together.
  3. Drain the pasta, but make sure you save 1 cup of pasta water (you don’t have to use it all). Add the parsley, lemon juice, olives, pepper, and olive oil. Add a little pasta water as well and mix everything together.

tunapasta54. Gently flake the tuna into the pasta (do this after mixing all the other ingredients so that you don’t break it up too much).

5. Sprinkle your breadcrumbs on top.


6. Serve!tunapasta7