This tuna pasta with spinach and lemon has been on heavy rotation in my house for years now, and for good reason. It’s made mostly with pantry items so is great when you haven’t been to the grocery store and need a dinner idea with what’s on hand. It takes 15-20 minutes to get ready so is a lifesaver on busy weeknights. It’s a one pot meal, and I will forever be a fan of those. And the flavors, as simple as they are, just come together in a beautiful way.
The only change I make in this tuna pasta from one time to the next is the greens. Sometimes I use spinach, sometimes I use arugula, and sometimes I use kale. Fresh baby spinach and fresh arugula are my favorite choices, mostly because there’s no trimming required like with kale. You just grab a few handfuls and throw them in! If you don’t have any fresh greens on hand, frozen spinach or frozen kale are a great substitute, you’ll just want to cut the amount you use down to a cup or a cup and a half if using frozen.
I used to be sort of wary of crushed red pepper flakes, they always seemed too spicy for me, but I’ve come to love a dash of them in dishes like this tuna pasta. I tried making it without the crushed red pepper once and the whole dish was totally missing something. If you’re like me and don’t love a ton of heat, follow the recipe as it is below. It adds just a little kick and this subtle background flavor that’s so good. If you love your food really spicy then toss in as much as you want!
Sprinkling toasted breadcrumbs on top of this tuna pasta is totally optional but I love the little bit of crunch and toasty flavor it adds. You can toast your breadcrumbs in a pan, in your oven, or in a toaster oven. I like to toss the breadcrumbs with a little olive oil before toasting.
This is another one of those recipes – like my caprese pasta – that I’ve been making for years and years and gets a cheer from my family every time I make it. When you land on something that your family loves and takes 20 minutes to get on the table, you know you’ve hit dinner gold!
Tuna Pasta with Spinach and Lemon
- 16 oz medium pasta campanelle, fusilli, or farfalle
- 2 12 oz cans of tuna
- 1 large shallot minced
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 lemon juiced
- 3 c fresh spinach or arugula
- 1/4 c Parmesan cheese grated
- 1/2 c panko breadcrumbs toasted, optional
- olive oil for drizzling, optional
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook according to the package directions. When draining, put a glass measuring cup under the colander to save some of the cooking water.
- Meanwhile, empty the cans of tuna, including the oil, into a large skillet. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add the shallot and crushed red pepper flakes and cook until the shallot is tender, about 3 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice and spinach, season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss until the spinach is just wilted. Add the pasta and Parmesan cheese and toss to coat, adding some of the pasta cooking water or olive oil if it seems too dry.
- Spoon the pasta into bowls and top with the toasted breadcrumbs is you're using them. If you have really good olive oil on hand, a fresh drizzle of it is great here.