You Should Be Giving Tuna Salad A Pasta Twist

Home cooking is all about making the most out of what you have, including your ingredients and time. Yes, ordering pasta from your local Olive Garden is a no-fuss way to indulge in some classic pasta comforts, but costs can really start adding up when you need to feed a bigger household. This is why the pantry and shelf-stable foods exist. Inevitably, you hit that day in the week where it's been four or five days since the last supermarket visit and there just isn't time or you're feeling too lazy to make a grocery run. In situations like these, canned tuna can come in handy for some essential quick meals.

When you think of something as ubiquitous as tuna salad, you can start to get an idea of how canned tuna might work well in other dishes. For instance, tuna salad contains plenty of mayonnaise, the occasional vegetable — like onion or celery — and a few other secret ingredients people like to throw in. What else contains household staples like mayo, vegetables, and secret family ingredients? Macaroni salad! You can instantly turn this traditional side into a more substantial meal by adding canned tuna, thanks to how much nutritious protein and fat is packed in fish. 

To add tuna to your pasta salad, it really is as easy as just draining a can of tuna and mixing it in — just be sure to taste and adjust the seasoning to accommodate.

Other ways to use canned tuna in pasta

Canned tuna also works incredibly well in many other popular pasta dishes often cooked at home. Spaghetti with tomato sauce, aglio e olio, and even the humble mac and cheese straight from a package are all excellent vehicles for tuna salad to ride along in; and they are all pasta recipes you should know. In the case of spaghetti with tomato sauce, you don't even have to go through the trouble of turning canned tuna meat into meatballs. In order to save time, you can just reheat the leftover marinara sauce and simmer it briefly with tuna meat to let the flavors combine.

Probably the most important tip for home cooks to stick to when cooking with canned tuna, though, is to use tuna that is packaged in oil instead of water. The first reason for this is that tuna packed in water largely tastes like nothing. This adds unnecessary blandness to the dish causing you to want to increase how much salt you add. Secondly, so many pasta dishes have olive oil on the ingredient list anyway, so it makes sense to repurpose the canned tuna oil in place of plain olive oil. This will amplify the overall tuna flavor in the pasta and provide that extra kick of umami to round everything to perfection. There aren't many other cheap, shelf-stable ingredients that will let you do that.