This is how you step up your ‘student food’ game: Pasta with spiced tuna

It’s the quintessence of student food. Simple, easy, cheap, no fuss no frills. After years of this survival dish though, it might get tiring. This version adds some special features that will awake your interest for it again.

Simple, easy recipe from the students day, with a more sophisticated and 'grown-up' take. This pasta with spiced tuna is a brilliant midweek meal, at work or at home.

We’ve all been there. Students with barely any money relying on cheap solutions to fill us up and get through the day. Pasta with tuna is literally THE THING to have when you’re a student. At least if you’re in Italy. And if you know how to cook pasta.

You will agree with me though that tuna in cans is not the tastiest. There are lots of flavours available on the market, but as with all other food, freshly prepared is always best. This recipe is extremely simple and relies on dry spices that almost all of us have in the pantry. Feel free to go for fresh if you prefer.

Ingredients (serves 2)
  • 180g whole wheat pasta – spaghetti is great, but penne or fusilli work well too
  • 1 can of tuna in sunflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes

Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add a pinch of salt and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.

Drain the sunflower oil from the tuna and break it with a fork into a shallow pan. Tip in the extra virgin olive oil and gently heat up over low heat. When it starts to sizzle, add all spices, and cook for a few minutes, stirring to mix well.

Now, once the pasta is cooked, leave the colander on the shelf. Bear with me while I explain you why. One secret tip we have in Italy to prepare a good dish of pasta is to keep some of the cooking water and add it once the pasta is in the pan with the sauce. The starches in the water help obtain a smoother sauce that will stick better to the pasta and add that extra degree of texture. I found the same works for ‘dryer’ sauces, like tuna, in this case.

So, take out your tongs if you’re having spaghetti (or any other long type pasta) or a slotted spoon for shorter formats, and transfer the pasta straight from the pan onto the tuna. This allows to carry some of the starchy cooking water into the sauce, without using a glass or a cup. In my experience this provides the right ratio pasta/liquid, avoiding to drown the whole dish in too much water (which we all know, is extremely difficult to remove).

Turn up the heat and toss a few times to incorporate the tuna and the herbs in the pasta, and serve straight away.

Pasta with spiced tuna - dish

Do you have a dish from back in the days that you decided to revamp now that you have grown up? Let me know in the comments below!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe!

See you next time!



2 thoughts on “This is how you step up your ‘student food’ game: Pasta with spiced tuna

  1. I have a pasta with tuna on my blog. It’s not from my student days, but it’s when we get back home after a long trip and I need something to cook without fresh produce! Plus it’s pretty inexpensive, so I’ve taught it to my daughters! Great recipe!

    Liked by 1 person


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