For Lent, Meatless Monday or a Pantry Meal

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I came home from New York City Wednesday night after a three-day business trip. On Friday, I had no ideas for dinner, and for Lent, had to make it a meatless meal, besides.

Rummaging through my pantry, I hit upon a simple pasta dish that took just a few minutes, with ingredients I always have on hand: canned tuna, spaghetti, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic and capers, along with a handful of flat-leaf parsley from my garden.

This dish can be made in the time it takes to cook the pasta—11 minutes. Just start boiling the water as you gather and prep the ingredients. Use good-quality olive oil and good-quality, solid tuna. Don’t use tuna packed in water because it won’t have the richness of flavor this dish requires.

Tuna Spaghetti
8 ounces spaghetti (1/2 of a 1-pound package)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise (top to bottom)
1 can (7 ounces) solid light tuna in olive oil
2 tablespoon capers, drained
3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
Freshly ground pepper or red pepper flakes

Cook spaghetti following package instructions.

While spaghetti is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté just until garlic is golden, about 1 minute; remove garlic immediately with a slotted spoon. (If garlic burns, the oil will taste bitter.)

Add the tuna, oil from the tuna can, and capers into the skillet and heat through, stirring and breaking up the tuna into small chunks, about 1 minute. Add the parsley, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and stir to combine. Remove from heat and season with pepper.

When spaghetti is cooked, drain and add to the skillet. Toss spaghetti with the sauce and serve immediately. Sprinkle the sliced garlic over each serving, if desired. Or if you’re not a big garlic fan, discard the fried garlic; it has served its purpose by flavoring the oil for the tuna sauce.

Makes 2 dinner servings.


  • If you want to use less oil, instead of adding the 2 tablespoons of olive oil that goes in with the parsley at the end, reserve some of the pasta water before draining the pasta and add a little of that pasta water instead.
  • If you like anchovies, add 1 or 2 finely minced anchovies to the tuna while heating.

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Posted: Mar 19th by Sandy_Hu