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Tuna Pesto Pasta Recipe

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Dinner is ready in just 20 minutes with this Tuna Pesto Pasta!  Perfect for busy weeknights, you can use store-bought or homemade pesto and your favorite pasta shape. Just 5 pantry ingredients and super budget-friendly!

large bowl of tuna pesto pasta with title text

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Take budget-friendly dried pasta and canned tuna and add store-bought or homemade pesto and you’ve got yummy Tuna Pesto Pasta – a easy and satisfying dinner that’s ready in 20 minutes with just 5 ingredients!

Ingredients for Tuna Pesto Pasta

Pasta: Use your favorite shape of pasta. You’ll need 1 pound (16 ounces). You can absolutely halve this recipe, too, by cutting all the ingredient measurements in half.

Pesto: You’ll need 1 1/2 to 2 cups of prepared pesto. This can be homemade or store-bought and really any style of pesto that you like – traditional basil, red pepper, calabrian if you like some heat.

Tuna: We’re all about convenience and budget-friendly, so we’re using canned tuna. For the full recipe, you’ll need 2 (12 ounce) cans. If you are trying to stretch your budget, feel free to use 2-3 (5 ounce) cans instead. You can use either packed in oil or water.

Garlic: Use fresh, pre-minced or even powdered garlic here. I say 2 teaspoons, which is the equivalent of about 4 cloves minced, but you can do as much or as little as you like. If using garlic powder, you’ll use 1/2 teaspoon.

If you’ve got it, throw on a little Parmesan cheese on top when serving.

pasta, parmesan cheese, pesto, salt, pepper, garlic, and canned tuna on counter

Equipment

How to Make Tuna Pesto Pasta

  1. Start by getting your pasta water boiling. Cook your pasta according to the package instructions. (Make sure to save 1 cup of the pasta water once your pasta is cooked.)
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pan and saute the garlic for 1 minute.
  3. Add the tuna and continue cooking until the tuna is headed. (It’s already cooked, so we don’t have to worry about any temperatures here.)
  4. Once the pasta is cooked, reserve 1 cup cooking water and then drain the pasta and add the pasta to pan with the tuna.
  5. Top with the pesto and stir to combine.
  6. Use the reserved pasta water to thin out your pesto sauce to your liking and serve.

Storing and Reheating Pesto Pasta

This pesto pasta dish will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. Pesto is a very thick sauce, so you will need to add more pesto or water to help loosen up the pasta when reheating.

overhead view of tuna pesto pasta in bowl

Variations

This recipe is so flexible! For starters, use whatever pasta you have on hand. I used rotini because the pesto sticks to the shape of the pasta really well, but any shape is great.

Feel free to swap the canned tuna for any protein. This pesto pasta recipe would be great with chicken, shrimp or even ground Italian sausage.

For the pesto, use your favorite whether it is homemade or jarred. I’ve even made this recipe with red pepper pesto.

Lastly, you’ve got the option to service this tuna pesto pasta hot or chilled.

More Easy Dinner Recipes

Tuna Pesto Pasta Recipe

Yield: 8 servings

Tuna Pesto Pasta

close up of tuna pesto pasta with shredded parmesan cheese on top

Take budget-friendly dried pasta and canned tuna and add store-bought or homemade pesto and you've got yummy Tuna Pesto Pasta - an easy and satisfying dinner that's ready in 20 minutes with just 5 ingredients!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces dried pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 (12 ounce) cans tuna, drained (or 2-4 5-ounce cans to your preference)
  • 1 1/2 cups pesto (store-bought or homemade
  • salt and pepper to tasta
  • Optional garnish: shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Bowl 1 pound (16 ounces) pasta according to the package instructions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil and garlic in a pot or deep pan over medium heat. Saute for 1 minute.
  3. Add the drained tuna and contine to saute until the tuna is heated through.
  4. Once the pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1 cup of cooking water and drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the tuna and garlic.
  5. Stir in the pesto. Use the cooking water to thin the pesto to your preference. You want the pesto to coat the pasta like a sauce.
  6. Tasta and add salt and pepper to your preference.
  7. Top with optional Parmesan cheese when serving.

Notes

This recipe is very flexible. Choose your favorite pasta shape or whatever you have in the pantry. For the tuna, use as much or as little as you like. The same goes for the pesto. If you like a nice punch of basil and garlic, use 2 cups. If you're looking for the essence of pesto, use less. And you're free to use store-bought or homemade pesto. You can also use red pesto varieties for this pesto pasta dish.

As for more variations, swap out the canned tuna for chicken, shrimp, or italian sausage.

Storing and Reheating: This pesto pasta dish will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. Pesto is a very thick sauce, so you will need to add more pesto or water to help loosen up the pasta when reheating.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 218Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 133mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 8g

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By on June 26th, 2022

About Sarah

Hi, I'm Sarah. The voice behind Feast for a Fraction. I've been a penny-pincher all my life, but still have a taste for nice things. I'm here to show you that you can eat (and live) well on a budget. From recipes and DIY tips to ways to make extra money, we'll be in control of our budgets together!

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2 thoughts on “Tuna Pesto Pasta Recipe”

  1. This was such an easy dish to prepare and the kids really liked it! I have some leftovers so they’ll have it for lunch tomorrow too. I will be adding this into our school lunch rotation!

    Reply
  2. This was so perfect for our family! On a Monday night I get home later from work, I have two kids to pick up from training on my way home. Then we get home, have an hour and two other kids go out to training and then on the way home from that I pick our eldest up from his after school shift at the bowling ally.
    So thinking about dinner is tough! So often I will grab takeout or a bunch of microwave meals.
    This pasta was so quick and all bar one of the kids loved it!!! Love that I have everything in my pantry and it is cheap as well!
    Great

    Reply

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