Spicy Orecchiette With Tuna, Peas, and Lemon Recipe

Orechiette loaded with meaty canned tuna and bright, sweet peas gets slicked with chile-infused olive oil in this lightning-fast, super-simple weeknight dish. Lauren Rothman

Orechiette is loaded with meaty canned tuna and bright, sweet peas, then gets slicked with chile-infused olive oil in this lightning-fast, super-simple weeknight dish.

Why this recipe works:

  • Fresh and flavor-packed ingredients like garlic, chili, lemon zest, and parsley help bring this dish from pantry to table in just 20 minutes.
  • Finishing the pasta in the oil, garlic, and chili-flake mixture with some reserved pasta cooking water on a strong simmer helps emulsify the oil and water into a creamy, coating sauce, delivering more flavor with each bite.
  • High-quality tuna packed in oil brings superior texture and flavor.

Note: For best results, use oil-packed tuna and do not drain oil from tuna before adding to pasta. Water-packed tuna can be used in place if oil. If using water-packed tuna, drain well.

Recipe Facts



Active: 5 mins
Total: 20 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • Kosher salt

  • 1 pound dried orecchiette or similar pasta, such mini shells

  • 1 cup frozen peas

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 1 teaspoon red chile flakes

  • 1 (5-ounce) can tuna packed in olive oil, preferably Italian (see note)

  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest plus 2 teaspoons juice from one lemon

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. 30 seconds before pasta is done, add peas to the boiling water. Drain pasta and peas, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking liquid.

  2. While pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a small skillet medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and chili flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl and set aside.

  3. When pasta is cooked, return pasta to now-empty pot. Add tuna, breaking it into chunky flakes as you add it. Add garlic and chili oil mixture to pasta and set over high heat. Add reserved pasta cooking liquid, lemon zest, and lemon juice and simmer, stirring constantly, until the sauce coats the pasta and thickens. Stir in parsley, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
269 Calories
22g Fat
9g Carbs
10g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 269
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 28%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 14mg 5%
Sodium 521mg 23%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 10g
Vitamin C 11mg 53%
Calcium 27mg 2%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 161mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)