I happen to love tuna. Now, I know not everyone is a tuna lover, but me? I could eat it every day.

However, the same old tuna sandwich gets kinda old so in an attempt to be creative and throw a meal together without a recipe (gasp! this is brave ground for me), I made this dish the other night and…it…was…awesome.

The garlic was subtle but essential and the combination of asparagus, tuna and pasta was perfect for a light, spring dinner. The sauce, not overly saucy by any means, lightly coats the pasta with a delicious garlic taste.

My kids actually ate this really well (albeit a few gags on the asparagus) and have now declared, “Mom, we like tuna, too…just not on bread.” Sigh…I’ll take what I can get.

What To ServeSaltine Crackers
A simple green salad (or for something more fancy this Gourmet Green Salad)
Fresh, seasonal fruit

Garlic Tuna Pasta with Asparagus

Yield: Serves 4-6

Garlic Tuna Pasta with Asparagus


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 medium cloves garlic , minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (this doesn’t add spice – just a nice enhancement of flavor)
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 2 (6-ounce) cans solid white tuna in water (2 cans), drained well
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into fourths
  • 1 bunch asparagus (or substitute broccoli, peas, etc.), tough ends trimmed and stalks cut into thirds, lightly steamed (I steamed mine for 3-4 minutes until just barely crisp tender)
  • 1 pound penne pasta or other similar tube pasta


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions (or however you like it).
  2. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch non-stick skillet, heat oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant (but not browned!), about 1 to 2 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add tuna, slightly breaking up chunks with your fingers, and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until tuna is heated through, about 1 minute.
  3. Toss tuna mixture, parsley, butter, asparagus (or other vegetable), and cooked pasta together in the skillet. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Recipe Source: My Kitchen Cafe

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33 Responses to Garlic Tuna Pasta with Asparagus

  1. This is a great dish. My daughter requests it whenever I ask her what she wants for dinner. Great garlic flavor without being overpowering. I substitute whatever veggies I have on hand to mix in – broccoli, peas.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great recipe, but I felt it was a little too much on asparagus and not enough tuna (for a tuna-lover with less vegetable tendencies).

  3. Christy Saam says:

    Ok so I love pasta, tuna, and asparagus but was fresh out of the asparagus cause my husband ate the last of it! So I pulled out some frozen broccoli and substituted it instead. Also added just a dash of cayenne pepper to spice it up a bit and it turned out fantastic! Thanks so much for the healthy options on your site! We absolutely love them!!! Wish I could post a picture cause it looks and tastes amazing!!

  4. Lindsay says:

    Trying this today…all the way over in West Africa! Look yummy! No asparagus here out in the bush, but we will make due with canned green beans. A bit sad, but alas…

  5. […] Recipe 6: Garlic Tuna Pasta with Asparagus […]

  6. Elise says:

    This dish inspired me to make a different dish with peas and basil, then in a basil pesto cream sauce. Delishous, thank you!

  7. Carlie says:

    Made this last night. We liked it but we are the family that likes some pasta with their sauce. So today I made your garlic Alfredo sauce for the leftovers. That sauce is heavenly. My kids ate it much better. I will definitely keep making this dish with the Alfredo sauce. Love having another meal to make!!

  8. Jennifer says:

    This is a great dish! I cut up the asparagus, put it on a sheet pan, tossed it with kosher salt, pepper, and olive oil, and broiled for 5 minutes. Also added lemon zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon at the very end. I think this will be great leftover as a cold pasta salad, too! Looking forward to it for lunch tomorrow!

  9. k says:

    i just finished eating this. or snarfing. whichever. i really, really enjoyed it. i thought i’d be good with a nice serving, and then i had another, and then i just had to eat that asparagus on the top but it needs a noodle and oh wait the ratio of pasta and asparagus will be off if i don’t do it right…anyway, i really liked it! i’ll have to try it with broccoli so my little picky ones will be more excited (i hope!) about it. seriously good and so, so easy. thanks!

  10. Darcy says:

    This was so delicious and I couldn’t believe how fast it was to make! I think it might have taken 15 minutes to whip it up with little effort. This will definitely become my new go-to meal instead of spaghetti on busy weekday nights. I just sauteed the asparagus wtih the garlic for a few minutes to keep everything in one pan and it turned out great. We added a little lemon zest and juice and parm. cheese at the end and that made it perfect for us! Even my super picky 3 yr old ate this with minimal fuss and since the tuna is the same color as the pasta he barely noticed it there and down the hatch it went!!! Recently found your blog through Bloom and I have become an instant fan! I’ve been printing recipes like crazy around here! Thanks for all the yummy meals!

    • Mel says:

      Darcy – thank you for your detailed comment! I love the changes you made and am thrilled that your three-year old ate this right up (I laughed at the “down the hatch” comment). Thanks for stopping by! I hope you find other recipes that you love, too.

  11. Mel says:

    mia – thanks for reviewing all the recipes that you try! I love this meal and haven’t made it in a while but your comment makes me think I definitely need to. Glad you liked it!

  12. mia says:

    Okay so this was supper tonight…..OH MAN!!!! Delicious, seriously!! Even if you don’t eat tuna, this is a great way to ‘sneak’ it in as far as the taste goes cuz honestly I didn’t find I could taste it, the chicken broth kinda overpowers the tuna…….it was sooo delicous…we love asparagus as well so it is the perfect combination. My little man went back for 2nds (that he didn’t quite finish but he picked out his asparagus and tuna from what he didn’t eat!) {{lol}} Thanks for another awesome recipe Mel!!!!

    *off to review the oatmeal pancakes we had for breakfast! 😉 *

  13. mia says:

    tuna + asparagus. sounds like heaven to me…love them both and so do my men, both big and little….i am always searching for new yummy ways to eat tuna, so this one is printed and put in the rotation for this week!!!

    thanks mel!!!!

  14. Nicole says:

    This looks really yummy! I too love tuna, so I will have to run to the store and get some asparagus and try it! Looks easy too!

  15. grace says:

    me? not a tuna-lover. i don’t care for asparagus either, but i do enjoy how it’s the same shape as the penne. 🙂

  16. Melanie says:

    KA – this recipe looks delish, thanks for passing it along. I’ll be trying it for sure!

  17. teresa says:

    Great idea, this looks so healthy and delicious!

  18. Beansieleigh says:

    Simple and inexpensive… Ingredients I don’t have to shop in ISTANBUL for.. THANK YOU!! (0;

  19. Colleen says:

    This looks amazing – I love tuna in pasta!

  20. Melanie says:

    Julianne – once again, I love your detailed variation comments. I think the cilantro and parmesan sound great! Thanks for filling me in!

  21. Ryan and Julianne says:

    I made this on Tuesday, and it was very good. A good, different way to use tuna. The variations I did…

    Steamed asparagus reminds me of boo-hoo days in my childhood, so I baked them in the oven with olive oil and salt. After they were cooked to my liking, I put them in a bowl and put them in the fridge until I needed them that night.

    I didn’t have parsley, but I did have cilantro, which tastes nothing like parsley and would probably gross some people out, but we LOVED it on there. We didn’t put a whole lot on — maybe about 2 TBSP fresh chopped, and it was very good.

    We also added about 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese at the very end to give it a little more kick. We liked that addition.

    OK, and so, my opinion is that this was a good, good meal, and easy to make, and easy to eat. Woohoo!

  22. Dixiechick says:

    Tuna, Melanie? TUNA? You know about me and Tuna. 🙂

  23. Maria says:

    I love this dish!

  24. Sallie My Sister's Kitchen says:

    I love tuna and I love asparagus. I’ve never had them together so I’ll have to try this.

  25. Bunny says:

    Trying to feed kids is quite a challenge isn’t it! Bravo to you for making a dish they’ll eat, it looks delicious!

  26. Leslie says:

    I am a tuna lover too!!

  27. Abby says:

    I like tuna, too. I love tuna casserole just don’t make it that often. This would be a great substitute!

  28. Delectable Dining says:

    I love tuna as well… this is like a dream meal! It sounds wonderful!

  29. Shanna says:

    I wasn’t sure about this one based on the title…but after reading the few ingredients, it sounds really good…fresh and summery. The husband doesn’t like asparagus so I’ll have to sneak this one in when he’s not home for dinner!

  30. The Mendoza Family says:

    Mel! I just tried this! It was DIVINE!!!! I LOVE skillet dinners like this, like the ham skillet dinner. You aren’t kidding about serving it immediately, it’s so good fresh and hot. I trusted you on everything because you never fail me! The red pepper flakes were a perfect amount of spice. I was tempted to add some whole milk or cream, but it didn’t need it at all. Anyway, thanks so much!!!

  31. Melanie says:

    Becky – you are so cute! Thanks for letting me know you liked it (and for trusting my opinion)!

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