Italian tuna and tomato pasta recipe

(52 ratings)

This recipe for Italian tuna and tomato penne pasta is bright and colourful as well as nutritious. A delightful spring or summer lunch.

Preparation Time10 mins
Cooking Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Cost RangeCheap

A fabulous cold pasta salad, perfect for hot days - ready in under 30 minutes.

Most pasta salads are more American than Italian, and often heaped up with cholesterol-busting levels of ranch dressing. But this version is light, simple and delicious. It's perfect for lunchtimes on really hot days when you want to sit outside on a shady patio. In fact, it's one of our favourite healthy pasta recipes for summer. Once the pasta is boiled, you don't need to go anywhere near a hot stove. The Italian influence is because when the pasta is dressed and garnished with plenty of fresh basil leaves, the red, white and green colours remind us of Il Tricolore, the Italian flag.


  • 250g dried penne pasta
  • 2 x 160g cans tuna chunks in brine, drained
  • 16 baby plum tomatoes, halved
  • 100g unpitted black olives, drained
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or to taste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves




  1. Boil the pasta in a pan of salted water according to packet instructions (usually 10-12 mins) and drain, rinse and leave to cool.
  2. Tip the tuna, tomatoes, black olives, spring onions, garlic, olive oil and lime juice into a bowl and stir together gently. Divide the pasta between four bowls and arrange the tomato and tuna mix on top.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, and scatter with small (or torn larger) basil leaves.

Top tips for making Italian tuna and tomato pasta

Try this authentic Italian trick with the garlic, to mellow the taste and allow it to infuse the whole salad. Instead of crushing the garlic clove, cut it in half lengthways, to reveal the largest surface area of cut flesh possible. Before adding ingredients to your bowl, rub the two cut halves of the garlic over the whole of the inside of the bowl, then discard them. The flavour will permeate into the salad this way, without leaving any chunks of raw garlic purée.

You might also like...

Healthy chicken recipes

Octavia Lillywhite
Food and Lifestyle Writer

Octavia Lillywhite is an award-winning food and lifestyle journalist with over 15 years of experience. With a passion for creating beautiful, tasty family meals that don’t use hundreds of ingredients or anything you have to source from obscure websites, she’s a champion of local and seasonal foods, using up leftovers and composting, which, she maintains, is probably the most important thing we all can do to protect the environment.