The Flavorful Ways Lidia Bastianich Incorporates Canned Tuna Into A Weeknight Meal - Exclusive

Looking for a fresh new way to use not-so-fresh canned tuna? Lidia Bastianich has you covered. In an exclusive interview with Tasting Table to discuss her new PBS special, "Lidia Celebrates America: Flavors That Define Us," the Italian American chef also named the best ways to utilize canned tuna in your weeknight meals — the first recipe incorporating pasta, of course.

The television cooking star explained that she actually loves throwing canned tuna into a sauce. Bastianich detailed, "I like a basic marinara, but I like to add some olives to it — some Gaeta olives, parsley, tuna, and pepperoncini. ... At the end, you throw in the tuna." She suggested not breaking the canned tuna completely and instead making it "a little chunky here and there." Then, add in some olive oil — presumably extra virgin olive oil, given the bottles she recommended stocking in your pantry — cook your pasta, and mix it into the sauce. When that pasta with the tuna sauce is all set and ready for eating, make sure to "throw a little basil in there, or parsley," Bastianich added.

Pasta isn't the only canned tuna alternative

Pasta sauce isn't the only easy dish where Lidia Bastianich turns to canned tuna. Aside from pasta, the cookbook author enjoys cooking up tuna salad with cannellini beans. Cannellini beans are dry white beans with a somewhat mild flavor — and although they're simple enough to cook yourself, Bastianich claims that the canned version of this kind of bean is just as "delicious and good."

"I put [in] sliced red onions, cannellini, tuna, oil, vinegar, and parsley, and toss it and enjoy it," the chef said. If you have some tomatoes lying around, feel free to add those in too — after all, you can't really go wrong with a classic tuna salad. In addition to these two flavorful recipes, you can also refer to Tasting Table's instructions for tuna lettuce wraps, dill tuna patties with cucumber cream sauce, or a dilly tuna casserole for further kitchen inspiration. You could have a whole week of dinner recipes dedicated to canned tuna if you wanted, so don't be afraid to use this cheaper, easier alternative to fresh fish!

"Lidia Celebrates America: Flavors That Define Us" is available for streaming on PBS' website and the PBS app.