Pasta With Garlic, Lemon, Capers, and Tuna

Pasta with Oil-Packed Tuna, Capers, Lemon, Garlic and White Wine
Danette St. Onge
  • Total: 25 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
757 Calories
69g Fat
25g Carbs
7g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
×
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 757
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 69g 89%
Saturated Fat 12g 62%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 161mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Protein 7g
Calcium 24mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This simple pasta recipe was probably invented to make use of ingredients you might already have in your pantry for a quick, effortless weeknight dinner. But the resulting dish is so much more than an easy meal that essentially cleans out the cupboards; the combination of oil-packed tuna, garlic, capers, and lemon works beautifully together, creating a somewhat sophisticated tasting pasta salad.

Short pasta, like fusilli, gemelli, or penne, is tossed in a simple sauce of tuna, capers, garlic, lemon zest, white wine, and parsley, with a touch of red chile pepper for spice and butter for richness. The result is greater than the sum of its parts—a truly delicious dish that tastes so complex and refined, it's difficult to believe how easy it is to make.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons finely minced garlic (about 3 cloves), divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red chile pepper flakes (or 1 small, dried red peperoncino, crushed with your fingers)
  • 3 tablespoons salt-packed capers (soaked in water for 15 to 20 minutes and then rinsed thoroughly a few times to remove excess salt)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 (6-ounces each) cans extra-virgin-olive-oil-packed yellowfin tuna (drained)
  • Fine sea salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (grated)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (broken into several pieces)
  • 1 pound short pasta (cooked to al dente and drained, 1/4 cup of the cooking water reserved)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. In a skillet large enough to hold the pasta, heat the oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the garlic, the red chile pepper flakes, and capers over medium heat until fragrant (but not browned), about 1 minute. 

  2. Add the wine and bring to barely a simmer; cook for 1 minute.

  3. Add the tuna and salt to taste and saute over low heat for 1 minute.

  4. Toss the tuna-caper mixture with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of minced garlic, the parsley, lemon zest, butter, cooked pasta, and as much of the reserved pasta cooking water as needed to form a creamy sauce that coats the pasta. Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.

Recipe Tips

It is important that you use extra-virgin-olive-oil-packed yellowfin tuna rather than the somewhat mushy and flavorless water-packed white tuna. It will hold its shape better and bring a more sophisticated taste to the dish. Even better is to buy an Italian brand of olive-oil packed tuna.

You also want to include salt-packed capers versus vinegar-packed; salt-packed have a far superior texture, are firm to the bite, and retain their fragrant caper flavor, compared to vinegar-packed, which tend to get mushy and taste of nothing but vinegar. The original Italian recipe for this dish calls for a lot more garlic so feel free to add another clove if you so desire.

Recipe Tags: