Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Quick and Easy Penne Pasta with Red Bell Peppers, Garlic, Capers, Olives, Tomatoes, and Tuna

Quick and Easy Penne Pasta with Red Bell Peppers, Garlic, Capers, Olives, Tomatoes, and Tuna
Quick and Easy Penne Pasta with Red Bell Peppers, Garlic, Capers, Olives, Tomatoes, and Tuna.  (Top it with Gremolata if you wish!)

About six years ago I discovered an affordable brand of Tuna packed in olive oil that really made me swoon, and since then I've made many tasty recipes featuring this tuna.   It's turned me into a bit of a tuna snob, because now I never buy any other brand (and when I could no longer find it in any of the stores by my house I even started buying Tonno Genova Tuna in Olive Oilby the case from Amazon.com!)  Without this uber-flavorful tuna, I don't think I'd have considering trying a pasta recipe that featured tuna as one of the main ingredients, but the Tonno Genova tuna made this simple and quick Penne Pasta with Red Bell Peppers, Garlic, Capers, Olives, Tomatoes, and Tuna really memorable.  And then Jake and I topped it with some ultra-flavorful Gremolata, which made it even better.  Admittedly, this may be a recipe that's not for everyone, but if you like tuna and have a favorite brand I bet you'll love this recipe.

Fine Cooking Magazine is one of my favorite sources for reliable recipes, and that's where I found this recipe.  I adapted it a little, adding capers, using fresh red bell pepper, and adding the gremolata.  I'm glad I always have this tuna in the pantry, because this recipe is going to be a repeater for sure.

Start the pasta water boiling, then chop the red bell pepper and sun dried tomatoes, slice olives, mince garlic, and measure out the capers.

Heat the olive oil and saute the garlic and red bell pepper.

Add the sliced Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and capers and saute a few minutes more.

The add the canned tomatoes with juice and let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes.  (Make the Gremolata if you're using it.)

While it simmers, cook the pasta.  I used Dreamfields Low-Carb Pasta for this, but you could also use whole wheat penne.

After 10 minutes, add the tuna to the pasta sauce mixture.

Stir very gently to combine the tuna with the sauce and heat through.

Cook pasta according to package directions (until it's barely al dente) and then drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Stir the drained pasta into the sauce mixture, gently combine, mix in the water if you want it a little more moist, and serve, topped with Gremolata if desired.

Quick and Easy Penne Pasta with Red Bell Peppers, Garlic, Capers, Olives, Tomatoes, and Tuna
(Makes 4 small servings; recipe adapted from this recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine.)

1 T olive oil
1 T finely minced garlic
1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, sliced (or use regular black olives if you prefer)
2 T chopped sun-dried tomatoes (probably optional, but they add more tomato flavor to the sauce)
2 T capers
1 can (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes and juice
1 can (5 oz.) tuna packed in olive oil, drained (I'm fiercely loyal to Tonno Genova Tuna in Olive Oil, but I'm sure there are other good brands.)
8 oz. Penne pasta (use Dreamfields Low-Carb Pasta or whole wheat Penne for South Beach diet.)
2 T Gremolata for garnish (completely optional, but good)

Start a large pot of water boiling for the pasta.  Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan with high sides (large enough to hold the finished dish.)  Add minced garlic and saute 1 minute; add the diced red bell pepper and cook 4-5 minutes, or until the pepper starts to soften.  Add the Kalamata olives, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and capers and saute 2-3 minutes more. 

Add the petite dice tomatoes with juice and turn heat to a low simmer.  Let the sauce cook about 10 minutes.  When the pasta water comes to a boil add a generous amount of salt, add pasta, stir, let it come back to a boil, and then reduce heat to a low boil and cook until the pasta is barely al dente (check package for cooking time.)  Drain into a colander placed in the sink, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.  (Make gremolata while the pasta cooks if you're using it.)

When the sauce has simmered 10 minutes, add the drained tuna and GENTLY stir to combine.  Continue to cook until the tuna is heated through, about 2-3 minutes.  Gently stir in the cooked pasta (and pasta cooking water if the sauce seems too thick.)  Serve hot, topped with the Gremolata if desired.

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South Beach Suggestions:
For the South Beach Diet it's important to use low-carb or whole wheat pasta for this dish.  I changed the proportions so the dish has less pasta and more of the low-glycemic sauce, and I'd serve this with a fabulous leafy greens salad for Phase 2 or 3 of the diet.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Delicious Ideas with Tuna Packed in Olive Oil:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Italian Tuna Salad ~ Eat, Live, Run.
Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps with Capers and Tomatoes ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Sicilian-Inspired Wheat Berry and Tuna Salad ~ Former Chef
Baby Kale, White Bean, and Tuna Salad with Lemon ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
My Favorite Tuna Salad ~ Sassy Radish
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

Blogger Disclosure:
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at Amazon.com, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!
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  1. It's hard to find a really good tuna so I'll have to see if any of the stores near me have that brand! This pasta sounds so delicious....it's seriously full of all my favorite flavors!

  2. Joanne, of course in New York you can get that amazing Italian tuna in olive oil, but this brand is nearly as good at half the price. Hope you can find it!

  3. I agree - tuna in olive oil is great in pasta. I buy it from Costco's and use it in a pinch for a quick dinner - will have to try this recipe on the kids.

  4. Jeanette, hope they like it. I might use regular olives if I was making for kids!

  5. I have a jar of oil packed tuna that I have been coveting that I brought back from Italy. It is the best!

  6. Val, I have only had that Italian tuna once, but it is indeed amazing!


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