Traveling without a home base for three years encouraged us to become creative in the kitchen. Though we didn’t always have the necessary tools or cookbook recipes, we still wanted to eat well on the road.
Despite the culinary challenge, we were highly motivated to cook at home on nights when we weren’t eating out at restaurants. The longer we traveled without a home base, the more we craved comfort food that was tasty, inexpensive and healthy.
There’s no better example than this tuna pasta dish where earthy tuna, spicy chili and vibrant tomatoes combine to create something special. Daryl first developed this recipe in Italy, modifying it over time until we were both satisfied with the result.
Why We Love This Canned Tuna Pasta Recipe
We love this easy tuna pasta dish so much that we’ve nicknamed it ‘Pasta a la Daryl’ in honor of the creator. We enjoy this go-to recipe once a week when we’re not traveling.
Daryl whips his signature tuna pasta dish together when it’s just the two of as well as when we have friends visiting from out-of-town. It’s a relatively quick to make, inexpensive crowd-pleaser.
Healthy Tuna Pasta Ingredients
Although the combination of canned tuna and pasta blends well with tomatoes and onions in this recipe, flavorful ingredients like chili peppers and capers add a salty, spicy hit.
Confession: Sometimes we forget to add the capers, but that’s okay since they’re optional.
This flexible recipe can be modified based on what’s in the pantry. Even the fresh ingredients can be replaced if necessary, though we recommend using fresh grape, cherry or plum tomatoes and herbs like parsley or basil.
Since we live in Lisbon, we always have canned tuna in our pantry. The Portuguese have been canning fish since the middle of the 19th century and the tins are as popular as ever. Though we can easily find canned sardines, salmon and other fish varieties at local Lisbon markets, canned tuna is our favorite and, most important, it’s cheap.
We recommend using tuna in olive oil. It just tastes better than tuna in water. We also recommend draining the tuna well so you don’t have an oily mess.
Who doesn’t like pasta? We love the Italian food staple and always have several types of noodles on hand. Daryl likes spaghetti and linguini best, while Mindi prefers chewy shapes like farfalle and gemelli.
We alternate between these two types of pasta depending on our mood and what’s in the pantry. It’s only fair and both work well in this flexible tuna and pasta recipe.
How to Make Healthy Tuna Pasta
As the name suggests, the two main ingredients in this tuna pasta recipe are pasta and tuna. Other key ingredients include onion, garlic, parsley, chili, olive oil and tomatoes.
You can carefully follow our recipe step-by-step or add your own twist. For example, you can adjust the amount of chili pepper based on your heat tolerance.
Another option is to replace fresh tomatoes with a 15 ounce can of whole tomatoes (which you can crush by hand at home), tomato puree or, for best results, passata – precooked jarred, unseasoned tomato puree. We prefer Ciro Passata Rustica. More on that in a later article.
Healthy Tuna Pasta Recipe
This is essentially a two-pot dish. We recommend using a 10″ to 12″ saute pan for the sauce and any large pot for the pasta.
Don’t worry if you can’t eat all of the Healthy Tuna Pasta in one sitting. In our experience, the cold leftovers taste surprisingly good.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.