tuna pasta salad

Tuna Pasta Salad

Tuna cooked with lots of garlic and red pepper flakes and tossed with bowtie pasta, white beans, and fresh arugula.


Tuna Pasta Salad

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A week ago Betsy talked me into going to my first ever spinning class. If you aren’t familiar with spinning, it’s where you ride a sort-of uncomfortable bike for an hour or so while a very thin, svelte person yells at you to “CLIMB THE MOUNTAIN” while playing Top 20 hits.

So I loved it.

But after it was over I was pretty sore and hungry. Seriously hungry. Luckily I had planned for this by picking up a few ingredients for a quick tuna pasta salad that would be light, filling and nutritious. All the things I figured my body would need after I finished CLIMBING THE MOUNTAIN.

Tuna Pasta Salad

Serves 6-8
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tuna pasta salad
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Tuna cooked with lots of garlic and red pepper flakes and tossed with bowtie pasta, white beans, and fresh arugula.


1 pound bowtie pasta (you could use any good pasta salad pasta)
12 ounces packed tuna in water
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 Cup olive oil
A handful of kalamata olives, chopped
2-3 Cups baby arugula
1 lemon, zest only
Salt and pepper


1) Cook pasta according to package.

2) Mince garlic, chop olives, zest lemon, drain beans and tuna.

3) Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir well.  Cook for a minute or two, but don’t burn the garlic.

4) Add tuna and continue to cook.  Stir and flake apart the tuna as it cooks.

5) Add drained pasta to dish along with beans and lemon zest.  Stir well to combine.

6) Kill the heat and add olives and arugula.

7) Season with salt and pepper and serve right away.  Leftovers are great cold!

A Simple Pasta Salad

This salad has some serious flavor in it, but only a few ingredients. It’s totally filling enough to have as a dinner and great for when you’re crunched for time.

These are the basics.

Basic stuff.

And after a few minutes, everything is prepped which just means that I minced the garlic, chopped up some olives, and drained my tuna.

Speaking of tuna, I guess you could use fresh tuna for this, but honestly, I like a really good quality canned tuna just fine for this meal.

This took about 2 minutes to prep.

Starting the dish

To start, add your olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the garlic and red pepper flakes.

It might look like a lot of oil, but it kind of acts as a sauce for the pasta and when you add in all the pasta and everything, it’s a perfect amount to just coat everything.

garlic and pepper
Smells good.

After the garlic and pepper flakes cook for a minute (don’t burn them), add in the tuna and stir it around so the tuna flakes apart.

tuna cooking
Break it up well.

One part of this dish which is not negotiable in my mind is lemon zest. It adds a perfect lightness and acidity to the dish that really brightens all the flavors.

So don’t skip it! If you don’t have a zester, you could add a few Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, but the zest is really where it’s at.

Zest: most important.

Cook your pasta according to the package and once your tuna has cooked for a minute or two, add in the pasta and drained beans to the tuna and olive oil.

Stir this together really well until everything is mixed and the pasta is coated with oil.

pasta added
Pasta and beans in the pot.

Turn off the heat and add in all your chopped olives and arugula. The heat from the pasta and everything will very slightly wilt the arugula but it’ll still be a bit crunchy which is awesome.

The color is also very pretty.


I added in some chopped olives also and don’t forget to season with salt and pepper. It shouldn’t need very much salt because the tuna and olives are pretty salty normally.

This dish really hit the spot after a workout though.

pasta salad up close
Every part of this is my favorite part.

Even after a workout, Betsy and I couldn’t polish off even half of this so we had tons of leftovers which were great for lunches. The salad is good cold or warm and actually gets a bit better I think on days two and three.

Quick, healthy, and delicious. What more could you ask for?

Oh yea and don’t forget to CLIMB THE MOUNTAIN!

8 Responses to “Tuna Pasta Salad” Leave a comment

  1. Haha, nick, spinning gets easier over time! Do you think you could sub out the tuna with salmon or chicken, or would it not mesh w/ the flavors as well?

  2. This sounds really good, we may need to try it. What would be a good substitution for arugula? Spinach maybe?

  3. This dish is perfect! All of these ingredients are staples in my pantry and fridge! I love, love, love having rocket in my pasta dishes!

  4. Absolutely love this dish!!! So flavorful with such few ingredients. Quick and easy to make AND healthy, what more can I ask for? Will definitely be making more of this dish to share in the future! Thanks for this great recipe!

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