Lemon and Tuna Pasta, with broad beans and garlic

Lemon and Tuna Pasta, with broad beans and garlic
This was a surprise. So, too, was checking my cupboard on Sunday evening past for an onion that I was fairly certain was there – alas, no longer! I’d forgotten to replenish. As I’d wanted to cook my go-to dish of caramelised onions, pan-fried broccoli and tuna this was a situ of going quite simply blond. Sometimes it’s good to be put on the spot, so to speak. And as lemons are in season I thought, why not?

As I only had them and organic garlic and single/light cream that’s pretty much what I added. Apart from oregano and black olives. What I was impressed with was tasting this Lemon and Tuna Pasta at room temperature the following day – this is going to be perfect with a little cream cheese or ricotta as a pâté (without the broad beans) as the lemon had even more zing. With a little lemon zest I think this will work out well. When it’s warmer, that is. And this would be perfect to go with one of my favourite soups: wild sorrel. That is absolutely delicious. Shame I won’t be able to find any here. Really should move back to civilisation! Hmm…until I do I might just post it before its season, even if I can’t go with a photo (I’ll try and do this as a pâté instead). That’s when I find the recipe as it’s somewhere within six notebooks!

Lemon and Tuna Pasta, with broad beans and garlic


  • olive oil
  • 1 x 185g or 130g drained weight (6.52 or 4.58 oz drained) can tuna chunks in brine, well drained
  • 1 x dried bay leaf, split
  • 2 x garlic cloves, peeled and crushed/minced
  • 1/2 x lemon, rolled under palms of hands before slicing, squeezed through a fine sieve to collect pips, etc
  • 1 x pinch cayenne pepper OR 1/4 x teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 x level teaspoon dried oregano
  • a little single/light cream, sauce should cling unto pasta rather than be too wet
  • 1 x 300g or 195g drained weight (10.58 or 6.87 oz drained) can broad (fava) beans, well rinsed
  • pasta of personal choice, cooked to the pack’s instructions, minus one minute in most cases (if, like me, you don’t care for anything too salty then do cut back on the amount of salt added to the water for the pasta)
  • cooking liquor from the pasta, about 2 or more tablespoons
  • 4 or more x pitted black olives per person, sliced
  • Grana Padano cheese or Parmesan, finely grated, to serve

Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.


  • After draining the tuna I like to get the chunks into a large heavy-based saucepan with a good glug of olive oil and the bay leaf. Put on electric heat at either No 2 or 3 (out of 6) and allow to settle. The reason I do this is to cook out any remaining brine, although you do need to keep an eye on this as the tuna shouldn’t really start to turn crisp.
  • Reduce heat to No 1, spread the tuna to the sides, add a little more oil if necessary and add the crushed garlic. Take off heat if pan is too hot as the garlic shouldn’t really be allowed to change colour.
  • In the meantime have the water for the pasta prepared and on heat No 4. Cook to the pack’s instructions, omitting one minute. Before draining reserve several tablespoons of the cooking liquor for the tuna.
  • Prepare the lemon and add to the tuna after the garlic has cooked enough. Sprinkle over a good pinch of cayenne and add the freshly squeezed lemon juice, poured through a fine sieve to collect pips and any pith. Stir through and up the heat to No 2 if the pasta is nearly ready. Pour over a little single/light cream and again stir through. The sauce should cling unto the pasta instead of being too wet.
  • Prepare the black olives and grate the cheese of choice.
  • Add the reserved cooking liquor and if sauce is too wet up the heat and stir constantly to prevent any scorching and this will help the cream and lemon from splitting as well. Remove the bay leaf, add the drained pasta, stir through and serve on warm plates with the black olives and grated cheese.

All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Feed the Piglet:
All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) – Copyright © Johnny H Hepburn


  1. Don’t you hate it when key ingredients go missing? Well done with improvising though. This dish looks delicious.

    I never had to worry about things like onions, but if it’s something cheese or ham…anything that can be popped into one’s mouth without cooking, it may go missing more readily…


    • Well, mine don’t go missing as such. I cook for one, so it’s a case of forgetting I’ve used up certain ingredients.
      This rather simple little dish worked out surprisingly well. And looking forward to trying it as a pâté as the lemon had even more zing (which I forgot to add to text).
      Thanks for your comment!


  2. Lovely idea to use the last of my broad beans frozen last autumn, and thank you for a post that does not include hearts or red – a refreshing change from the Valentines content of many posts just now (not that I don’t enjoy them, just a good contrast 🙂 look forward to the wild sorrel soup post in future!


    • Oh yes, even better with fresh broad beans. I can get them here but only for several weeks during summer. Will definitely make this with fresh, then.
      Hah! Yeah, the Valentine’s thing isn’t my thing. The only reason for me to celebrate is that it’s the middle of Feb and Spring is on its way – even though it doesn’t feel like it. I can even take photos with natural light until 4 pm right now! So I did two shoots today. Ooops, which reminds me I still haven’t managed to upload the secondary photo for this post!


  3. Ditto what Food and Forage Hebrides says above (I’m such a copycat) …I love broad beans and how clever to combine them with tuna! (although, I have to be frank, I am going to stay away from tuna for a while on account of it becoming very scarse, at risk of extinction) and lemon! What a very clever, creative cook you are Mr Feedthepiglet !


    • You know, I didn’t realise that about tuna! What else is going to go wrong with the food chain. I’m not sure how it is in Italy re horsemeat but it’s becoming more and more idiotic here with such flagrant practises being able to take place. I’m initially blaming the lack of legislation. Seriously, fresh and frozen butchered meats can enter the UK without proper labelling and with very little paper work?!?

      Can’t really think of a sub as in sea food. Yet, I was thinking a nice piece of pork belly, well roasted to render off most of its fat, could work really well with this (without the tuna). Hmm…maybe over the weekend!


  4. Super useful recipe (always on the lookout for tasty uses of can tune) but I’m also interested in your go-to onion, broccoli and tuna thing – it sounds great, will have to copy cat that.
    ps: Happy Valentine’s Day, Johnny!


  5. I LOVE all the ingredients, except – unfortunately I can eat tuna only in sashimi format… and I don’t each other (raw) sashimi. Go figure. 😉
    Never thought of fava beans with pasta. I’ll try this vegetarian.Thanks for the idea!
    Happy Love Day, Johnny! 😀 )))


    • Yes, I do love broad/fava beans. Well, most beans for that matter.
      It’s funny, I’m not overly keen on raw. I guess I didn’t really grow up eating a lot of fish nor seafood. As an islander that’s kind of odd.
      And a Happy Love Day, too!


  6. Well, I have to say that I’m glad you forgot to replenish your onions, otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to see this recipe! Thanks for the tip on cooking the brine out of the tuna, will try it out the next time! Happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂


  7. What a great idea!! I am not a big tuna eater. However with pasta it looks incredible. And with fava beans and olives…, delicious! This is fine dining my dear friend and you should be paid for your recipes 🙂


    • Tuna is one of those go-to ingredients I usually have in my cupboard. Shame it’s being depleted due to over fishing.
      This is a simple dish that I’m quite excited about as it tasted even better at room temperature. Hmm…decisions now of what to add to it and what to serve it on!


  8. Pingback: Pasta recipe with green peppers, canned tuna and cherry tomatoes. Pasta con peperoni, ciliegino e tonno in scatola. | Chocolate Spoon & The Camera

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