Tuna and Red Pepper Pasta

I love Italian cooking because the pasta recipes are just so simple. Throw together some cooked pasta, olive oil, garlic, and maybe one or two other tasty ingredients and you’ve got yourself a meal. Case in point: Tuna and Red Pepper Pasta.

This recipe definitely fits that formula. The “sauce” is simply olive oil flavored with garlic, crushed red pepper, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. Add to that little bits of salty tuna and flecks of fresh parsley and you’re instantly transported to some little trattoria on the Mediterranean coast!

This recipe is quick, simple, light, and fresh. It will definitely be a winner for all of you who love the subtleties of olive oil’s flavor.

Tuna & Red Pepper Pasta

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Tuna and Red Pepper Pasta

4.43 from 7 votes The simple flavors in this Tuna and Red Pepper Pasta pack a major punch for an easy yet flavorful dish.  Author: Beth – Budget Bytes Servings 6 Prep 5 minutes Cook 15 minutes Total 20 minutes Save RecipeSaved! Print Recipe


  • 1 lb. pasta, any shape ($2.08)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil ($0.44)
  • 1 Tbsp 4 cloves minced garlic ($0.36)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper ($0.05)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley ($0.44)
  • 1 5 oz. can chunk tuna ($0.72)
  • to taste salt and pepper ($0.05)


  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil and garlic in a skillet that is large enough to hold the cooked pasta. Cook the garlic over medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until it becomes very fragrant. Add the crushed red pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes more (do not let the red pepper burn, turn the heat down if it begins to brown).
  • Very carefully, add 1-2 ladles of the pasta cooking water to the skillet. Also add about 1/4 bunch of chopped parsley. Let this simmer over medium heat until the pasta is done cooking.
  • When the pasta is al dente, drain it briefly in a colander and then add it to the skillet. Stir everything together. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. If there is still liquid in the skillet, continue to let it simmer until it has evaporated (this shouldn’t take long).
  • Drain the can of tuna and gently stir it into the pasta. Add a little more fresh chopped parsley, red pepper, or salt and pepper if desired. Serve hot.

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I can’t help but thinking how wonderful a few kalamata olives would be thrown in there!


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 345.72kcalCarbohydrates: 57.67gProtein: 14.77gFat: 5.95gSodium: 204.42mgFiber: 2.68g Read our full nutrition disclaimer here. Have you tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!


Step By Step Photos

Begin by cooking the pasta in lightly salted water.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet (big enough to hold all of the cooked pasta) along with the minced garlic. I have found that the price of fresh garlic has increased so much lately that I’ve been using the pre-minced garlic in a jar… but that’s just me. If using fresh, use about 4 cloves.

Let the garlic sizzle in the oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes and then add the crushed red pepper. Let that cook in the oil for 1-2 minutes more. If the red pepper begins to turn brown, turn the heat down so that it does not burn.

Very carefully add one or two ladles of the starchy pasta water to the skillet along with a handful or two of chopped parsley.

Let the ingredients in the skillet simmer until the pasta is finished cooking. It should be almost done by this time.

Briefly drain the cooked pasta and then add it to the skillet. Stir everything together and then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. If there is still some liquid in the skillet, let it simmer over medium heat until it is mostly gone.

Drain the can of tuna and gently stir it into the pasta mixture. I decided at this point that I wanted to add a tad more parsley and red pepper. Stir gently so that the tuna doesn’t break into a million pieces.

And there you have it. Simple, delicious, filling.

I always find it difficult to successfully stir stuff into spaghetti. It seems like the spaghetti stays in one clump and all of the other ingredients collect on the outside edges of the pan. So, although the spaghetti looked nice here, in the future I will probably use something like bowtie just to make it easier. Either way, Tuna and Red Pepper Pasta is a WINNER.

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