Pasta and tuna salad with zucchini and sundried tomato pesto

Pasta and tuna salad with zucchini and sundried tomato pesto


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The dressing for this simple, colourful salad has a sweet-sour flavour, which perfectly complements the lightly cooked zucchinis, tuna, tomatoes and pasta. Serve the salad cool, but not chilled, or try it while it is still warm.

Ariana Klepac

Serves: 4 

  • 250 g pasta twists or spirals, such as fusilli or rotini, or other shapes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 zucchinis, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sundried tomato pesto
  • 1 tablespoon white or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 6 tomatoes, skinned, halved and cut into thin wedges
  • 200 g canned tuna in springwater, drained and roughly flaked
  • 6 black olives (not oil-packed), stoned and halved
  • fresh continental parsley to garnish

Preparation:15min  ›  Cook:15min  ›  Ready in:30min 

  1. Cook the pasta twists in boiling water for approximately 10–12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until they are just al dente. Drain the pasta well, rinse well with cold water and then drain again very thoroughly.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat half the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and garlic, and fry for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion and garlic are softened. Add the remaining olive oil and the zucchinis and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the sugar, the sundried tomato pesto, white or red wine vinegar and capers to the onion and zucchini mixture. Heat for a few seconds, stirring until all the ingredients have combined to form a dressing.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes, then transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool.
  5. Add the drained pasta to the bowl, then gently mix in the tuna and black olives. Divide the salad among 4 plates or transfer to a large serving bowl. Serve garnished with some continental parsley leaves.


To increase the fibre content of this dish and make a more substantial meal, you can add 1 can (400 g) borlotti beans, drained, with the pasta. * Omit the tuna for a vegetarian dish. * Canned anchovies can also be used instead of tuna. Drain the oil from 1 small can (45 g) and use it instead of the olive oil for cooking the ingredients in step 2. * You can also use 220 g baby yellow squash instead of zucchinis. Trim their tops and bases, then slice them in half.


Using tuna canned in springwater, rather than in oil or brine, keeps the fat and salt content of the dish low. * Tomatoes and zucchinis together ensure that this simple salad provides an excellent supply of vitamin C.

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