Mediterranean Tuna Pasta

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

The “holy grail” of recipe development is creating something that is easy to make, easy on the budget, can be made in 30 minutes, and is drop dead delicious.

It’s a goal to strive for, and hard to reach. But this Mediterranean tuna pasta? Wow. I keep making it and eating it, making it and eating it. Today I only got to make it, because my sweetheart and a friend came over and ate the whole batch!

Think Nicoise salad meets tuna casserole and you’ll be somewhere in the ballpark of this recipe.

Mediterranean Tuna Pasta

Canned tuna is tossed with chopped tomatoes, olives, red onions, capers, parsley, olive oil and lemon juice, and then tossed again with hot fusilli pasta and shredded Mozzarella cheese.

The hot pasta melts the cheese into the tuna mixture. Make it ahead if you wish; if you do, warm it in the microwave before serving.

Mediterranean Tuna Pasta Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • 2 5-ounce cans of albacore tuna (preferably packed in olive oil), drained*
  • 1 tomato, cored, cut in half crosswise and squeezed of excess juice, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup pitted, kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp capers, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (more if you are using tuna packed in water)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound fusilli pasta, dry
  • 1 cup grated Mozzarella cheese

*If you are using a good quality brand of canned tuna, packed in good quality olive oil, there is no need to drain. The oil is highly flavored. If you question the quality of the olive oil, drain it, and add back the same amount of your own good quality olive oil (about 2 Tbsp, listed in the ingredients).


1 Put pasta water on to boil: Heat 2 quarts of salted water (1 Tbsp kosher salt), to a boil. While heating the pasta water, prep  the ingredients.

2 Stir drained tuna with tomato, olives, onion, parsley, capers, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper: Place drained tuna in a medium bowl. Stir with a fork to break up the largest chunks of tuna. Add the tomato, olives, red onion, parsley, capers, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

3 Boil pasta until al dente: When the pasta water comes to a boil, add the pasta and boil, uncovered, on a rolling boil until al dente (cooked through, but still a little firm to the bite). Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water.

4 Add pasta to tuna mixture, sprinkle with Mozz: Drain the pasta and immediately add the pasta to the tuna mixture.

Sprinkle with the grated Mozzarella cheese and stir until everything is well combined. If the pasta seems a little dry, add some of the reserved pasta water and/or some more olive oil.

Serve warm.

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Mediterranean Tuna Pasta

Showing 4 of 25 Comments

  • Peg Shryne

    I’ve made this several times, for the 2 of us, for company, and (doubled) to take to a potluck. It’s always devoured! Such an easy, simple recipe that packs a ton of flavor! Like most, I tweak it depending on what’s in the pantry, but it’s so versatile that it’s always delicious!

  • Erin

    Long-time lurker here :) This is one of my fav recipes I’ve ever made from SR and is s go-to in our house. I actually do a “gluten free” version most often, swapping out the pasta for a can of garbanzo beans. I find that one 5oz. can tuna + one can garbanzos gives me two meals. And it’s so versatile – salmon swap for tuna, green olives in lieu of kalamata, out of onion but got shallots? sure! I also always add a clove of garlic, prefer cilantro to parsley, and no cheese due to allergy, but it always tastes fab no matter what goes into it. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • patti

    changed up the pasta with penne)) tuna in can with good olive oil is the best

  • Karen Steffen

    This is DELICIOUS! It is so easy to make and tastes like it should be more complicated! The olives and capers takes this up another notch! Has become one of our “go to” meals! Love your site! Thanks!

  • Carly

    This is way more delicious than one might expect given the simplicity and already-have-it-in-the-cupboard nature of the ingredients. I think that the lemon juice added a critical balance, and though I would normally shy away from using tuna packed in oil, I think that that also made a huge difference.

    I’ve been tweaking with the leftovers and can recommend adding sundried tomatoes, (frozen) kale or spinach, and even hot sauce if you like your food with a kick.

    THANK YOU Elise, for your incredibly reliable recipes and the care with which you present them!

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