Canned Tuna Takes Pasta To The Next Level In More Ways Than One

The beloved chicken of the sea — canned tuna — can be found in the pantries of millions of American households. Yet, too often, it is reserved for specific dishes like the tuna melt or tuna salad, and not much else. How did something as rich in protein (up to 25 grams) and flavor as canned tuna become a second thought in the kitchen? Well, it comes down to the type and quality of the canned tuna, which can either come as loose flakes in water or a tightly packed fillet in olive oil.

Although tuna in water is fantastic for tuna salads, tuna in oil has the rich, fatty flavor required for dishes like salad niçoise and tuna casserole. In fact, the best quality canned tuna comes from Italy–and they always pack their tuna in oil, which preserves flavor with the addition of extra fats. A high-quality, olive-oil tuna can be an intense, powerful ingredient that transforms simple pasta or salad into a well-rounded, protein-filled meal.

Tuna adds flavor and protein

Most of the time, pasta dishes are enhanced with the addition of protein, be it chicken or shrimp, or even anchovies. But, what if you don't have fresh chicken or shrimp in your fridge? Do you submit yourself to a vegetarian pasta and call it a night? Well, that's when the canned tuna comes in. If you have a flavorful oil-packed tuna in your pantry, you can add that to your pasta, with some briny ingredients like capers, to create an amazing rendition of a pasta puttanesca recipe. Said to have been invented when one Italian chef's friends told him to make them "whatever," pasta puttanesca is usually made with anchovies, garlic, olives, capers, and tomatoes, according to Italy magazine.

You may not have anchovies in your pantry, so what better substitute than a high-quality tuna packed in oil? It'll add the same salty, fishy flavor to your tomato pasta, with a lot more added protein. Tuna might just be the best protein to add to the blank canvas of a pasta dish. Plus, when canned tuna comes infused with olive oil it brings additional healthy fats and a salt kick to the pasta sauce. Following the spirit of the pasta puttanesca, add whatever you want — especially that can of tuna sitting in your pantry.