Tuna Pasta with Tomato and Olives

LentenBudgetQuick and EasyCanned Tuna

Easy to make! Pasta with sauce of tuna, tomato, garlic, shallots, olives, parsley.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Looking for a quick and easy midweek meal? This tuna pasta with tomato and olives couldn’t be easier to make, and comes together in 30 minutes, start to finish.

Not only do you likely have everything you need to make this dish already in your pantry, but the combination of tuna, tomato, and olives? Really really good.


Tuna Pasta with Tomato and Olives Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Prep the ingredients while the pasta water is heating. If you are subbing onions for the shallots, mince them and let them cook a few minutes before adding the garlic and red pepper flakes.

If you are using water-packed, not oil-packed tuna, add a couple more tablespoons of olive oil to the sauce. You may also want to add a minced anchovy.


  • 12 ounces short pasta (shells, macaroni, rigatoni)
  • Salt for pasta water
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil (plus 2 Tbsp if you are using tuna packed in water)
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots (can sub onion)
  • 2  teaspoons mince garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 5-ounce cans tuna packed in olive oil, drained
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley


1 Bring pasta water to a boil: Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil (add 1 Tbsp salt for every 2 quarts of water). While the water is heating, prep the ingredients and start the sauce.

2 Sauté shallots, garlic, red pepper flakes: Heat 3 Tbsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped shallots, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes at the same time to the pan. Let cook for about 30 seconds.

3 Add drained canned tuna: Drain the canned tuna and add it to the pan. If you are using tuna packed in water and not olive oil, add 2 or 3 more Tbsp of olive oil to the pan.

Break up any chunks of tuna with a fork or wooden spoon. Let simmer for a minute.

4 Add tomatoes, olives, capers, salt, pepper: Stir in the crushed tomatoes, olives, capers, salt, and pepper.

Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to the lowest setting to gently cook while you cook the pasta.

5 Cook pasta: Add dry pasta to the pot of boiling salted water. Cook uncovered at a vigorous full boil until al dente—cooked, but still a little firm to the bite, about 13-14 minutes.

Before draining, remove a cup of the pasta water and set aside.

6 Stir cooked pasta into sauce: Drain the pasta and stir into the sauce. Toss with grated Parmesan and chopped fresh parsley. If the pasta seems a little dry after a few minutes, add back in some of the reserved pasta water.

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Showing 4 of 19 Comments / Reviews

  • Torrey

    Amazingly delicious. I used some leftover spaghetti sauce instead of canned tomatoes, and Portuguese tuna in olive oil. Diced some zucchini for a little more vegetable. Great, quick, easy dinner.

  • Bebe

    Elise’s recipes are the best! And thanks for those subs. We use a very good albacore packed in water (Costco’s Kirkland brand). If one wanted to be more of a purist, I suppose the drained albacore could go into that extra olive oil ahead of time to pick up some tuna flavor?

    And some of us do not have shallots around…

    Recipe sounds like a nice change.

  • Terry

    The recipe says to remove and set aside a cup of the pasta water then drain the water from the pasta. Why set the cup if pasta water aside? It never says to use it in the sauce which I guess would water the sauce down and it would need further cooking to thicken it back up. I think it would overcook at this point? I’m going to use left over chicken instead of canned tuna.

  • Lauren

    Oh this is one of our go-to favorites! We usually use halved cherry tomatoes though. So good…and so easy! Perfect weeknight meal. May have to make it tonight!

  • Prema Picardi

    I wasn’t sure if I’d like this recipe or not. I’ve never had tuna with tomato sauce and pasta together. I was curious , so I gave it a try. It turned ou to be a really easy, tasty midweek meal with plenty of leftovers for lunch the next few days. I used fire roasted crushed tomatoes, cilantro instead of parsley and I doubled the amount of olives because I love kalamata olives. I will definetly make this again when I am craving a tomato and pasta meal. The tuna is a great addition.


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