Spaghetti with Tuna and Capers, in 15 Minutes

Spaghetti is a classic comfort food, but why not make it healthy with tuna, capers, tomatoes and spinach? This is a great alternative if you are craving to eat spaghetti without the meat sauce and with much less cheese.  It also makes for a great complete meal because you have lean protein, vegetables and carbs all in one dish. The briny flavor of the capers goes well with the tuna.

I recommend using canned tuna packed in olive oil from Italy, which adds a lot of flavor.  This also has bigger chunks of tuna marinated in olive oil. There are so many brands of canned tuna out there but they’re not the same.  They almost look like “mashed” tuna and when you cook with this, it quickly disappears.  I like to see the flaky tuna pieces a bit more in the dish I make.

Adding the spinach and tomatoes packs in more nutrients to the dish. In the summer I make this with all fresh tomatoes.  It’s a good healthy meal to serve your family or guests.  If you are thinking of substituting the vegetables, I recommend staying with a mild flavored vegetable. For the pasta here, you can use linguini or fusilli (cork screw pasta).

Parmigiano reggiano cheese is freshly grated at the end.  Please do not substitute with the pale white imitation you often find at the supermarket.  A wedge of this cheese costs only about $6 at the supermarket which to me is very reasonable.  So buy a wedge of this cheese so that you can freshly grate whenever you need it.  It will last a long time in the refrigerator. It also can be used in soups, salads, risotto, and of course as a snack.

I know the Italians don’t normally add cheese to any seafood pasta, but I’m not Italian, so I think I can get away with cheese on this dish, because it works. It’s awesome!

Spaghetti with tuna, capers, tomatoes, spinach

Spaghetti with Tuna and Capers

Tuna, capers, tomatoes, and spinach combined with spaghetti makes a delicious alternative to meat sauce.
Servings 4
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 8 oz. spaghetti
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ medium onion diced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 can tuna in olive oil (do not drain)
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmiggiano reggiano cheese
  • 1 Tbsp capers drained
  • red chili flakes to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  • Boil water in a pot. Add spaghetti and some salt. Stir and cook spaghetti until al dente, about 10 minutes.
  • While spaghetti is cooking, heat oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add in onion, let cook for 2 minutes stirring once.
  • Add garlic, 1/8 tsp of red chili flakes (or more) and tomatoes, let cook for 1 minute. Add tuna (with its oil) and capers and let cook for another minute.
  • Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain spaghetti well. Add spinach and spaghetti and 1/2 cup of pasta water into the skillet. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Mix together. Turn off heat. Top with freshly grated parmigianno reggiano cheese. (Optional: garnish with fresh basil leaves)


Go light on the salt because the capers are already salty.  Buy a good canned tuna in olive oil like Genova that comes from Italy. It is very affordable.
Author: Elizabeth Segal
Course: Main Course

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