Recipe: Penne Pasta and Garlic-Lemon Tuna Sauce with Capers and Parsley

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Lemon Tuna Pasta FeatureA few years back we posted an easy mid-week pasta recipe that doesn’t require a lot of planning and uses ingredients that you probably already have on-hand (Penne Pasta with Tomato-Garlic Tuna Sauce and Mint).  Here’s another variation from Cooks Illustrated that is just as easy and doesn’t skimp on flavor. You can prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking and it all comes together in about 30 minutes from start to finish.  You’ll make this one of your go-to dishes when you’re pressed for time and didn’t plan anything for dinner!


INGREDIENTSLemon Tuna Pasta Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons Olive This! Single Varietal EVOO plus 2 more tablespoons if replacing the butter in this recipe.  For a more lemony flavor you can also use our Lemon Fused EVOO
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press – about 2 tablespoons, divided
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 cans (6 ounces each) solid white tuna in water, drained well
  • salt
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon zest from a lemon
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6-8 pieces (optional, not pictured above)



Cook and Drain Pasta - BrighterCook pasta until al dente (according to package directions).


Reserve Pasta Water -BrighterWhen pasta is done cooking, reserve ¼ cup of pasta cooking water.  Drain pasta.


Prep ingreds for Lemon Tuna PastaWhile the pasta water is heating to a boil, chop the parsley, mince the garlic, zest the lemon and break apart the two cans of well-drained tuna with your fingers.


Start ingreds in skillet for Lemon Tuna PastaIn a 12-inch skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the EVOO, the red pepper flakes, half of the minced garlic (1 tablespoon), and the capers over medium-high heat until fragrant but not browned, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Stir frequently.


Cooked sauce for Lemon Tuna PastaAdd the white wine and bring to a simmer.  Let cook for about 1 minute until there’s no trace of alcohol.  Add the tuna and 2 teaspoons of salt.  Stir the sauce frequently and cook for about 1 minute until heated through.


Mixing bowl for Lemon Tuna PastaIn a large warmed mixing bowl, add the cooked pasta, tuna mixture, lemon zest, chopped parsley, remaining 1 tablespoon minced garlic and reserved pasta water.  The Cooks Illustrated recipe calls for adding butter to the mixing bowl at this point, however, for a healthy alternative you can drizzle about 2 tablespoons of EVOO instead.  Toss well, seasoning with more salt and pepper to taste.  If desired, garnish with more red pepper flakes.  Serve immediately.



Have a comment?  We’d love to hear from you.  Have you tried this dish?  Do you have a variation that you think others will enjoy?  Leave us a comment below (providing your email address is not necessary).

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