Tuna Nicoise Pasta

This is the time of year when I actually try to step away from the bacon for a moment or two and do the whole new year new you thing.  The Southern husband is always game for a soup or salad supper, but at the same time I want to make something that is going to be interesting and delicious.  And so I did one of my favorite things to do, which is take something that I like in one form and flip it into another one…in this case, I took an innocent tuna nicoise salad and pasta-fied it.  Pasta-fied is a word, right?  If not, it should be.  I hereby declare it a word!

The other major change I made (besides the whole pasta-fying thing) was to use jarred tuna instead of the fresh tuna that you typically find in nicoise salad.  Now don’t get me wrong – I love fresh tuna as much as the next girl – but you really need to use it the same day you buy it, and I was making this on a weeknight.  And one of my Totally Unbreakable Weeknight Rules is that I do NOT go to the supermarket.  Nope.  After working all day, the last place I want to find myself at 6pm on a Tuesday night is the A&P.  No offense to the A&P, but I’m only going there on weekend mornings.  So jarred tuna it was, and I used the really good stuff.  The really good stuff comes in a jar instead of a can, and is packed in olive oil (which we will use later in the recipe!) and costs significantly more than canned tuna but less than fresh tuna.  If your supermarket has a gourmet section, it’s usually there.  And if you have to use canned, just get the best canned version you can get.

The rest of this recipe includes the usual nicoise ingredients: green beans, baby potatoes, hard boiled egg…and in my version, capers instead of olives.  This is purely because I hate olives, and I’m sure I am breaking many many nicoise rules by leaving out the olives (for all I know, nicoise actually MEANS olive) and if you are an olive lover you should feel totally empowered to use olives instead of capers.

And then there is the pasta.  I used a nice short curly pasta, but any short pasta (ziti, penne, etc) will work just fine.  You’ll make a lovely sauce out of the tuna oil and some mustard and vinegar and toss it all up with a little pasta water and the nicoise ingredients, and it will be light and lovely and delicious.  I like to serve this one warm to room temperature.

I’ll give in to the siren song of the bacon very soon, I’m sure, but in the meantime I’m going to keep on looking for salads to pasta-fy!

Tuna Nicoise Pasta
Serves: 4 servings
  • 8 ounces baby potatoes, cut in halves or quarters
  • 8 ounces fresh string beans, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 8 ounces short pasta (ziti, penne, campagnelle)
  • 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 1 eight ounce jar of tuna packed in oil
  • ¼ cup capers (or olives!)
  • 4 hardboiled eggs, cooled, peeled and cut in quarters
  1. Cook potatoes in simmering water for 8 minutes. Add string beans and cook for another 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions in heavily salted water. Save ½ cup of pasta water and drain.
  3. Return pasta to pot and add 3 tablespoons of the tuna oil (supplement it with olive oil if you don't have enough from the jar) and the mustard. Stir until combined.
  4. Add in the potatoes and string beans and gently stir.
  5. Add just enough pasta water to make a little light sauce.
  6. Break up the tuna into bite sized pieces and gently stir into the pasta mixture along with the capers.
  7. Divide among plates, garnish each plate with 4 egg quarters and serve!


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    • Kate says

      I pretty much just go for the priciest one at Fairway…it’s always great. I’ll pay attention to the jar the next time and let you know what it is!


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