Spicy Tuna Pasta Salad

I love any easy, fresh, portable salad during the week for work lunches. This salad is perfect – easy to whip up at home on a weeknight and full of light, fresh flavors; yet hearty enough with the pasta noodles and tuna. The salad is kicked up a notch with the addition of crushed red pepper flakes. If you don’t want to add the heat you can easily exclude this item. What I also love about this salad is that there is zero mayonnaise in this pasta salad – it’s pulled together with olive oil and parmesan cheese instead. This recipe makes enough for 4-6 servings – you can easily double it for a party recipe or half the recipe if you only want a handful of servings instead. Everything is prepared and ready to go in under 30 minutes!

Spicy Tuna Pasta Salad
  • 1 pound Cavatappi pasta
  • 1 cup peas, frozen
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 to 2 (5 ounce) cans white albacore tuna packed in water or olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup Paremsan Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Add 1 cup frozen peas to the boiling water about 1-2 minutes before the pasta is done. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water and then drain pasta/peas and set aside.
  2. In the empty pasta pot heat ⅓ cup olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon garlic and 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes to oil (reduce the amount of crushed red pepper flakes if you like less heat). Stir for about a minute and add in 1 to 2 cans of tuna packed in olive oil or water. Be sure to add the entire contents of the tuna - no need to drain. Break up the tuna into chunky pieces.
  3. Add the pasta back into the pot with about ½ cup pasta water and stir to combine.
  4. Toss in ½ tablespoon lemon zest and 1 teaspoon lemon juice and stir gently to coat the pasta.
  5. Toss in ¼ cup chopped parsley and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.