This cold Tuna Pasta Salad recipe is both easy to prepare and extremely versatile – you can serve it for brunch, lunch or dinner. It calls for a tasty pesto dressing with no mayo, making it perfect for picnics and potlucks, too!

White plate filled with a portion of Tuna and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad

I found this intriguing recipe for Tuna and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad buried in my mom’s kitchen files. It was given to her by Marne Kellogg — a friend to us both and the daughter of my parents’ good friends Margie and Jack Davis.

Cooked short pasta (like fusilli, rotelle, rotini, or gemelli) is tossed together with hunks of canned albacore wild tuna, chopped marinated roasted red peppers, green peas or edamame beans, prepared pesto and Parmesan cheese. How easy is that?

whilte plate showing a portion of Tuna and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad

I love the flavor combinations in this pasta salad! And, with no mayo, only 2 tablespoons of pesto and 1 tablespoon of cheese per person, it’s healthy too. I can see why this recipe was in mom’s files. She loved recipes that were easy to make ahead of time with pantry ingredients, elegant to serve, and scrumptious – and this salad is all that, and more.

What’s the best pesto to use?

For this Tuna Pasta Salad, I like to use my favorite Spinach Basil Pesto. Feel free to make your own favorite; store bought will also work. Just purchase prepared pesto that’s in the refrigerated section of your grocery store – it has the most/best flavor in my opinion.

Which canned tuna is best?

I absolutely love Wild Planet Albacore Wild Tuna packed without oil. It’s moist but not oily and has great tuna flavor, without being too fishy tasting. Plus, Wild Planet tuna are line caught, which is better for the environment and means the fish are smaller with less mercury.

How long will this Tuna Pasta Salad last in the refrigerator?

We recommend making it 1 hour up to 24 hours ahead of time, for maximum flavor. However, I have made it 2 days ahead and everyone still loved it!

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White plate showing a portion of Tuna and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad. Title is on top.

Tuna and Roasted Red Pepper Salad Recipe

whilte plate showing a portion of Tuna and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad

This cold Tuna Pasta Salad recipe is both easy to prepare and extremely versatile – you can serve it for brunch, lunch or dinner. It calls for a tasty pesto dressing with no mayo, making it perfect for picnics and potlucks, too!

  • Author: (From “Fresh Tastes” by Lee Clayton Roper)
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 9 mins
  • Total Time: 19 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: main dish salads, fish, pasta
  • Diet: Low Calorie

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 pound dry gemelli (short twisted), rotelle (wagon wheel) or rotini (corkscrew) pasta
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen shelled edamame beans – see Substitute below
  • 2 (5-ounce) cans white albacore tuna in water, drained and broken into chunks
  • 16 ounces marinated roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup Spinach Basil Pesto, or regular basil pesto
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, cook the pasta according to package directions. Add the edamame beans to the cooking pasta during the last 6 minutes.
  2. Drain cooked pasta-bean mixture in a colander; rinse with cold water, drain again. Set the pasta mixture aside to cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine tuna, red peppers and pesto, tossing to blend. Add the cooled pasta mixture and toss. Add the Parmesan cheese and toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Chill for at least 1 hour. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Notes

Make ahead: Salad can be made up to 24 hours in advance, covered and stored in the refrigerator.

Substitute for edamame: use frozen green peas that have been thawed and drained. Skip directions for cooking the beans.

Keywords: cold tuna pasta salad, make ahead tuna pasta salad, healthy tuna pasta salad, no mayo tuna pasta salad

Note: if this recipe looks familiar, it’s because it’s an update to a post from a few years ago. I’ve added new photos as well as answers to your questions.

Lee Clayton Roper

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I’m Lee Clayton Roper, and I’m passionate about making cooking and entertaining easy, elegant and fun. Here you’ll find scrumptious recipes, helpful tips and seasonal menus that will spark inspiration in your kitchen!
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