I'm a big believer in a well-stocked pantry (tuna, beans, several types of pasta, canned tomatoes, and chicken stock are always in there!), and it really pays of when you need to make dinner in a hurry. And one night last week was a pantry dinner night; we got home late and needed to eat in under 20 minutes. I rummaged through the pantry and created a healthy, flavorful pasta that both my husband and my toddler adored!Italians often toss pasta with tuna, so I started from there and used a can of tuna packed in olive oil. (Don't use water-packed tuna; the dish needs the richness of the olive oil.) I added a can of cannellini beans (they have a wonderful buttery, nutty flavor) and whole-wheat spaghetti for extra nutrition. I happened to have fresh Italian parsley in the 'fridge, so I used that to add a fresh note and some color (I would have added fresh tomato, too, if I had one). Finally, I drizzled a grassy extra-virgin olive oil on top. And voila--dinner was served!


  • 1/2 pound whole-wheat or regular spaghetti
  • 1 can tuna, packed in olive oil; drained
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (see Note)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  1. In a large serving bowl gently toss the white beans and the tuna.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  3. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the spaghetti to the serving bowl, tossing gently. Add a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water and drizzle with olive oil. Add just a pinch of salt and a nice grinding of pepper. Toss again and taste; you might need more salt, depending on the saltiness of the tuna. Add more pasta water and/or olive oil to taste.
  4. Sprinkle the parsley over the top and serve immediately. Serves 2-3

Note: Cannellini beans are also sometimes called white kidney beans.