Tuna and whole-grain pasta come alive with pantry staples and a simple sauce of tangy goat cheese whipped with fresh dill and artichokes. Served hot, the sauce is velvety and smooth. Served chilled, it’s a pasta salad lover’s dream, fresh and herby. Either way, it’s comforting and tasty!

Tuna and goat cheese pasta dish plated with fork and napkin.

Canned tuna and boxed pasta are a nutritious pair of pantry staples many of us have on hand, but I’d venture to guess they are seldom used together for an elegant and tasty meal as much as they are used on their own (hello red sauce and hello tuna salad!). I hear how much people love cozy casserole-type one-pot meals. They are easy, comforting, and filling. I’m here to tell you that you can have your cake and eat it too, with this easy, comforting, filling pasta dish that also delivers on nutrition and is based on fish and whole-grain pasta with veggies (integral to the Mediterranean Diet). Dare I say it’s reminiscent, ever so slightly of the tuna noodle casseroles from days of yore minus the soup and with so much more flavor? Perhaps. What I think is magnificent about it, in addition to the herby and bright flavors, is the way it makes an elegant warm dish, but also could become a tuna, artichoke, and goat cheese pasta salad, when the occasion calls for it (see how below).

Why Make this Tuna Pasta with Goat Cheese Sauce?

  • Only 5 Ingredients (plus fresh dill) – Five ingredients plus fresh dill make up this dish. In addition, a dollop each of yogurt, mustard, olive oil, and honey are flavor additions to the sauce, but if needed, you could leave them out for a less special but totally tasty dish. Goat cheese is just that flavorful.
  • Easy Peasy to Make – Goat cheese is blitzed with artichokes, dill, and the dollops mentioned above to create a zingy sauce. The sauce and other ingredients are heated briefly and gently, then mixed with the pasta and edamame, peas, or asparagus, and boom, you are done.
  • Protein-Rich – Tuna, whole-grain pasta, and edamame or peas create a protein-rich meal (approximately 28 grams per serving).
  • Great Flavor – Opposed to typical cream sauces and casseroles, this recipe is full of herby dill and a subtle tang from the cheese and artichokes. It’s fresh!
  • Just Plain Healthy – the chosen ingredients provide a meal full of protein, fiber, and nutrients while being low in calories (under 300), sodium, and fat.
  • Versatile – As mentioned in the intro, this sauce is wonderful and velvety as a hot sauce with the ingredients, but if you skip the heating and simply mix it with the cooked pasta and edamame (or subbed veg), it’s a great room temp or chilled pasta salad.

Above: 1. Ingredients for cheese sauce placed in food processor. 2. Blended sauce. 3. Ingredients for Sauce.

Above: 1. cooked pasta and edamame draining. 2. recipe ingredients in saute pan, ready for cooked pasta. 3. Recipe ingredients.

Ingredient Notes + Substitutions

  • Albacore Tuna (Unsalted) Packed in Water – There are several types of tuna available, and for this tuna with pasta and goat cheese sauce, I recommend using albacore tuna for its larger chunks and milder flavor. If you want to use tuna packed in oil then omit the oil in the sauce recipe and drain off most of it before using the tuna. If you use chunk light tuna, it will break down more, creating a different texture in the dish.
  • Whole-Grain Pasta – I love Sfoglini Pasta these days and am using their whole-grain reginetti in this dish. It’s a shortcut pasta (short chunky cut versus long noodles). Whole-grain pasta has a more nutty flavor than traditional pasta and is twice as high in fiber as other kinds of pasta. I also thought it was higher in protein, but it only has a gram more protein than regular semolina or durum wheat boxed pasta (not sure about fresh). See the Sfoglini link above if you want to check these nutrition facts out. The bottom line is you can sub any shape, long or short, of course, and any type of pasta.
  • Artichoke Hearts – Known for their nutritional properties, from prebiotic inulin fiber to magnesium, and the ability to help lower cholesterol and blood sugar, artichoke hearts are served in the dish as well as blended into the sauce to add acidity, more subtle than if I’d used capers or lemon.
  • Edamame/Peas/Asparagus – I wanted to include one of these green veggies and my primary choice is edamame for protein, but did you know peas are also high in protein? Both edamame and peas provide good amounts of protein (see info boxes) but they also offer a lot of flavor. Chopped asparagus is a great option too, if you don’t like the other choices. Keep it crispy!
  • Goat Cheese – Oh glorious goat cheese. I’ve loved this cheese my entire life, but as I ate less cheese over time, I forgot about it! It’s much lower in fat and salt than other hard cheeses and has a wonderful tangy flavor. I can’t wait for you to try it as the source of “cream” in this dish. Any fresh goat cheese, a.k.a. chevre will do (with or without herbs, whatever you can find).

Above: It’s a quick process to add in some pasta water, incorporate it into the sauce and ingredients, then add the cooked pasta and finish up the recipe.

Method + Timing

  • Ingredient prep – draining and flaking the canned tuna, draining and chopping half the artichokes, and briefly thawing frozen edamame or peas is all that’s required.
  • Goat Cheese Sauce – this is a super easy process where you use a food processor or blender to create the sauce by blending all the ingredients. So simple and fast.
  • Pulling the dish together – this is also super easy and fast. Mixing a bit of pasta water into the other ingredients and heating briefly on low heat is all that is needed. Cooked pasta and edamame are then added and mixed in. Voila!

The completed pasta dish ready to serve.

Et voila! (and there you go!). Ready to serve

Serving and Reheating

  • Serving Hot – Once you’ve mixed the cooked pasta into the sauce and other ingredients you can serve immediately. I don’t recommend leaving it to sit. Since it’s low in fat and fairly low in moisture (compared to other sauces) it doesn’t have a lot to keep it smooth and velvety over time. So serve promptly. It’s a fresh meal for sure!
  • Serving Chilled – for a completely different type of meal, a chilled pasta salad, this recipe works beautifully as well. Skip the heating of the ingredients and sauce in the pan, and instead, dump the cooked pasta and veg in with the sauce and other ingredients. You can toss and serve right away as a room-temperature pasta salad. Or, chill and serve later or the next day. If you plan to serve chilled later, be sure the pasta is al dente and not overcooked, and toss with salad tongs so as not to break the ingredients down when you toss to serve.
  • Topping/Garnish – I suggest reserving 1/4 cup of the sauce to serve over the top. If it’s been chilled to eat the next day, you can stir in a little water to loosen it up to drizzle/spoon over the dish. I also like to reserve some edamame/peas to sprinkle on the top with fresh dill. Finally, if you like a real zing, feel free to squeeze a bit of lemon and/or sprinkle a few capers over the top.
  • Reheating – If you don’t plan to eat all 4 servings hot and want to reheat later, I recommend holding a bit of the sauce aside to stir in warm the next day. Like any pasta dish, the pasta absorbs moisture when it sits overnight.
close up of tuna and pasta with goat cheese sauce.

Other Pasta Recipes

Are quick pasta dishes your go-to dinner basic? Then check out my Quick Mongolian Shaved Beef Recipe or Noodles with Herby Tahini Sauce with Bright Vietnamese Flavors !

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Tuna and pasta with artichokes and goat cheese sauce.

Tuna with Zesty Artichoke and Goat Cheese Pasta Sauce (Hot or Chilled)

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Servings4
Calories285
Tuna and whole-grain pasta come alive with pantry staples and a simple sauce of tangy fresh goat cheese whipped with fresh dill and artichokes. Served hot, the sauce is velvety and smooth. Served chilled, it’s a pasta salad lover’s dream, fresh and herby. 
Kitchen Tools
  • 1 food processor, or blender, needed to make sauce
  • 1 pasta pot
  • 1 skillet

Ingredients
 

Pasta Dish Ingredients
  • 2 cans solid albacore white tuna in water (5oz cans) (I prefer unsalted)
  • 8 oz whole-grain short cut pasta (i.e.Penne, Rigatoni, Farfalle, Orecchiette, Reginetti)
  • 1 can artichoke hearts (rinsed, half for sauce, half for dish)
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh shelled edamame or peas (or chopped asparagus )
  • goat cheese sauce (ingredients below)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges/capers (optional garnish for extra zing)
Goat Cheese Sauce Ingredients
  • 4 oz. fresh goat cheese (a.k.a. chevre)
  • 1/2 above listed can of artichokes (half pureed in sauce, half in recipe)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill (reserve some to garnish)
  • 2 tbsp plain nonfat greek yogurt (or any milk fat%, your call)
  • 1 tsp herb mustard (any dijon darker mustard)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey

Method:  

Make the Goat Cheese Sauce
  • Open can of 1 can artichoke hearts, drain, rinse and set 1/2 aside. Use 1/2 for this sauce.
  • Place 4 oz. fresh goat cheese, 1/2 above listed can of artichokes, 1/4 cup fresh dill, 2 tbsp plain nonfat greek yogurt, 1 tsp herb mustard, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp honey in food processor or blender and blitz until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Finish recipe
  • Measure out 1 cup frozen or fresh shelled edamame or peas or peas. If using frozen they can thaw a bit while you gather rest of ingredients.
  • Bring pot of water to boil while you get the rest of recipe together (next three steps).
  • Open 2 cans solid albacore white tuna in water (5oz cans), drain water, and flake tuna lightly (keep flaked tuna larger in size than you would when making classic tuna salad).
  • Take reserved 1/2 can of artichokes and cut into quarters.
  • While you wait for water to boil, place all ingredients (including the sauce you just made) in a cold skillet, to await the pasta. Hold 1/4 cup of sauce aside to drizzle over top of plated dish.
  • Cook 8 oz whole-grain short cut pasta according to directions. Add edamame/peas to pasta cooking in last couple of minutes to lightly blanch them.
  • Towards end of pasta cooking, remove 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and set aside.
  • Drain cooked pasta along with the edamame or peas.
  • Add cooked pasta/edamame or peas into saute pan where the other ingredients are waiting. Turn the heat on medium low and begin to stir all ingredients together. The goat cheese will quickly melt into a loose cream.
  • Add 1/4 cup of the pasta water, and stir to incorporate. Cover pan for a couple of minutes for dish to heat evenly throughout, on low. Check to be sure it doesn't boil much at all. The goat cheese does not require that. You are just trying to gently heat throughout. Your call if more pasta water is needed or not. Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish plated tuna pasta with fresh dill and some of the zesty sauce! A squeeze of lemon juice or sprinkle of capers will add an extra zing that I love.

Nutrition (an estimate)

Calories: 285kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 379mg | Potassium: 438mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 106mg | Iron: 3mg | Magnesium: 53mg | Net Carbohydrates: 19g
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