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Tuna Kale Pasta in a wooden bowl

Tuna and Kale Pasta – Budget-Friendly One-Dish Meal

  • Author: Karen
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 5 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


This is a quick, delicious, and easy one-dish recipe that uses readily available ingredients of canned tuna, pasta, lemon, and kale and it’s ready in 30 minutes.


Units Scale
  • 1 lb. Penne or favorite pasta, regular or gluten-free
  • 4 cups kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 46 Garlic Cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 5oz. can good quality tuna in water; tuna in oil can be used but reduce the amount of olive oil above.
  • 1/4 cup black Kalamata olives or 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese, grated*



  1. Cook pasta according to the package direction, adding salt to the water. Scoop out one cup of hot boiling pasta water just before draining.
  2. Prepare kale – Rinse torn kale in a colander or salad spinner and place kale in a large serving bowl with lemon juice, zest, and salt.
  3. Knead kale for a minute or two to soften the leaves. Allow kale to sit while the pasta cooks. The lemon juice, salts, and kneading soften the leaves, improving the kale’s texture and digestibility.
  4. Make tuna sauce –  heat oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper. Sauté 30 seconds. Add tuna; stir to break up the pieces and heat through. Remove from heat.
  5. Scoop out one cup of pasta water in a coffee mug and reserve. Drain the pasta and add it back into the cooking pot.
  6. Add the tuna mixture to the pasta pot.
  7. Fold in wilted kale leaves and mix thoroughly.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Serve the pasta dish in the serving bowl that held the wilting kale, if desired. Sprinkle with Parmesan Regioanno cheese and garnish with olives.



Note: This recipe was updated on Jan 20, 2023.

*Italians do not usually serve Parmesan cheese with a fish dish, but I like how the cheese and lemon make a rich sauce.

You can use tuna in oil if you prefer – it has more flavor, but reduce the amount of olive oil. Also, try this recipe using arugula instead of kale  Tuna Pasta with Arugula and Lemon.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 Minutes
  • Category: Fish & Seafood
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 5

Keywords: One-dish pasta, pantry meal, tuna, meatless Fridays dinner, lenten meal

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