This Easy Tuna Pesto Pasta is so simple, yet so flavorful and is a quick meal for busy weeknights! Using only 5 ingredients, this tuna pasta dish is on the table in less than 20 minutes!
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This post was originally published in June, 2021. It was updated to include more photos and details in April, 2022.
Tuna gets a bad rap, ya’ll!! I feel like it’s “retro” or as my kids would say “boomer!” Being a child of the 80’s I had a tuna fish sandwich (on white bread, heavy on the relish) at least 5 times a week!
Somehow I turned out OK! I love taking “retro” ingredients and elevating them just a bit to create new dishes!
Think tuna is retro??! You haven’t tried my easy One Pot Tuna Mac and Cheese!
This tuna pesto pasta recipe is a little bit “boomer,” a little bit modern and 100% DELISH!!!!
This dish can be enjoyed warm OR as more of a tuna pesto pasta salad and served chilled. I love it both ways–it’s super fresh tasting and it all comes together in ONE glorious pot so there is very little clean up!
Let’s hear it for the boomers!!
Need another quick and easy weeknight meal that’s a little less “boomer??” Try my Panko and Parmesan Crusted Cod with Cherry Tomatoes!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
- It comes together super quickly — about 20 minutes!
- It can be enjoyed hot or cold!
- Leftovers are perfect for lunch OR it makes a great meal prep!
- It’s a one pot meal meaning easy clean up!!
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this delicious Pesto Tuna Pasta:
Tuna: I like using the tuna packed in olive oil for the flavor, but tuna packed in water is just fine, too! I always look for “Solid White” tuna—it seems to be the freshest tasting!
Pasta: I used the fun shape, Campanelle here but ANY pasta shape works! Bow ties, rotini, penne, spaghetti–anything goes!
Pesto: Store bought pesto sauce makes this dish come together in no time, but I HIGHLY recco you make my homemade pesto: Basil Arugula Pesto–it just takes 5 minutes and the difference is out of this world! It all comes together in the food processor with minimal chopping, too! #winning
HOW TO MAKE TUNA PESTO PASTA: STEP BY STEP
Here are some quick visual instructions. Remember that full instructions with exact ingredients will be in the recipe card below!
Step 1: Boil up your pasta in a large pot. When pasta is done, drain reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Step 2: Then return pasta to the pot, on low heat. Add in the pesto with a little pasta water and stir until pasta is well coated.
Step 3: Add in cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts and tuna.
Step 4: Toss gently to combine everything. Warm until everything is just heated through. Serve immediately.
RECIPE TIPS & TRICKS
- When adding the pasta water, start with a few tablespoons at a time, stir, then add a little more as needed. You don’t want to add tooooo much-it will water down the pesto.
- Topping off this pasta with a squeeze of lemon juice, some fresh cracked black pepper and a sprinkle of parm takes it over the top!
- This dish works great as a meal prep! Make it on Sunday and store portions in airtight meal prep containers and enjoy it all week long!
STORAGE AND REHEATING
- Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge (I LOVE these bowls and these containers). Leftovers will last 3-4 days.
- Reheating: When you are ready to eat, you can either heat it up in the microwave for about a minute OR enjoy it cold like a tuna pesto pasta salad (that’s my preferred way to enjoy leftovers!)
ADDITIONS AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Here are some great options if you want to switch it up or add things!
Additions: Cannellini Beans, small pieces of buffalo mozzarella, grilled veggies (bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, etc.), kalamata olives
Substitutions: You can swap out the tuna with grilled chicken, salmon or veggies!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
One serving of this pesto pasta is around 420 calories. The recipe serves 6.
Yes!! Omit the tuna and add grilled veggies!! Yummm!!!
Pasta that has holes, ridges or nooks and crannies for the pesto to cling onto work best! Campanelle, Fusilli (corkscrew) and orecchiette (“ears”) work best. But honestly, you can’t really go wrong!
OTHER RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
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Easy Tuna Pesto Pasta Recipe
- 1 lb. pasta (your favorite, See Note 1)
- 1 14oz can artichoke hearts packed in water
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 5 oz. cans of tuna (See Note 2)
- 3/4 cup prepared pesto (store bought or homemade) Make your own fresh pesto: Basil Arugula Pesto
- 1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water
- lemon juice, parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, for serving (optional)
- In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions.
- When pasta is done, drain, and reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking liquid.
- Return pot to stove with cooked pasta and over LOW heat, stir in pesto and reserved pasta water. Add in pasta water a few tablespoons at a time, stir and check the consistency. You don't want it too watery, you just want enough water to help incorporate the pesto. Usually about 1/4 cup does the trick.
- Gently fold in tomatoes, tuna and artichoke hearts, stirring carefully to combine. Heat over low heat for a minute or so, just until everything is warmed through. Serve immediately with a good squeeze of lemon, Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper, if you like!