This quick and easy Tuna Carbonara pasta dish is the perfect cozy weeknight dinner, using basic pantry staples that come together in no time!
This post is sponsored by Blue Harbor Fish Co.®. All opinions are my own. Please see the disclaimer here.
When you’re craving comfort food, but don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen creating said comfort food, you must make a pot of creamy carbonara pasta. It’s creamy taste comes from fresh parmesan cheese and whisked eggs, that get tossed in a pot of warm and garlicky pasta – no heavy cream or butter in this one; it’s cleaner than most comfort foods, but the taste is incredibly indulgent!
Traditionally Spaghetti Carbonara calls for pancetta or guanciale to add a bit of fat and salt (flavor), but you can also use bacon. To kick the flavor up an extra notch and give it more protein to balance out the carbs, I love to add in Blue Harbor Fish Co.® Wild Albacore Tuna.
Their clean flavor makes it easy for me to just grab from the pantry, along with my pasta and go. It’s so fresh and flaky, making it perfect for a pot of Tuna Carbonara. I love that there are large chunks of flaky tuna with pancetta and parmesan cheese in one bite. It’s seriously heaven on a fork!
If you’d rather use salmon, Blue Harbor Fish Co.® offers Wild Pink Salmon that would also work incredibly well for this carbonara recipe. If you are watching your sodium intake, Blue Harbor Fish Co. also offers their Albacore tuna and Wild Salmon with No Salt Added. There are plenty of options for this carbonara dish.
You don’t need cream
Pasta Carbonara is one of my favorite dishes to enjoy when dining out, and so I’ve been making a variation of this comforting dish for years. A lot of recipes call for a touch of heavy cream. Traditionally though, you do not add cream. Adding cream turns this pasta into an Alfredo situation, not a carbonara.
If you want an authentic flavor, do not add heavy cream.
You only need eggs and Parmesan Cheese. The combination of whisked eggs with Parm already make for one creamy, indulgent tasting sauce on its own.
Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water:
If you need to loosen your sauce later on, you’ll need a little leftover pasta water. Or you may not – it’s going to be a game-time decision based on your personal preference. If after you add the eggs and Parm, your Tuna Carbonara doesn’t seem creamy enough, gradually stir in a bit of leftover (reserved) cooking water.
Turn off the heat when you add the eggs.
After tossing the pasta in the bacon (or pancetta) fat, remove your skillet from the heat and stir in the egg and Parmesan mixture. And stir quickly and vigorously! The eggs will cook from the residual heat of the pan, the bacon fat, and the hot pasta. If you keep the skillet over the stovetop, you’ll scramble the eggs instead of creating a cream sauce. This may sound intimidating, but it’s very easy and as long as you follow the above step, you should have zero issues.
If you’re a pescatarian or do not eat pork: you can omit the suggested bacon or pancetta, but you’ll want to use olive oil to saute your garlic and tuna for flavor and healthy fat.
Make sure to use fresh Parmesan Cheese: There are additional preservatives in grated or shredded Parmesan cheese that help to ensure the Parmesan does not clump together. This is the opposite of what you want when making a homemade Carbonara sauce; you want the Parm to melt smoothly and easily (and quickly!) without any issues. Treat yourself to the good stuff for this meal.
what kind of pasta to use
Traditionally, Pasta Carbonara calls for spaghetti, but any long noodle will work. If you have something other than pasta already in your pantry, feel free to use what you have. The point is to keep this recipe easy.
The photos shot were made using gluten-free spaghetti using brown rice flour. You can use gluten-free, grain-free or traditional pasta. You can of course always make your own pasta if you know how.
what to serve with this pasta
Tuna Carbonara has loads of healthy fats, protein and carbs. Top with fresh parsley and additional Parmesan cheese, with fresh pepper and enjoy.
If you’ve got a little extra time, you can easily add a side salad like this Shaved Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad to start.
And wine. Wine is always a good idea – enjoy!
other easy recipes using tuna
- 1 lb. spaghetti - or other long pasta noodle
- Kosher salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 4 ounces pancetta or bacon cubed or sliced into small strips* - or 2TBSP olive oil if omitting pork
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- (2) 4.6-ounce cans Blue Harbor Fish Co. Wild Albacore Tuna in Water with Sea Salt - - drained
- Freshly ground black pepper - for garnish
- Freshly chopped parsley - for garnish
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese - for garnish
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook spaghetti according to package directions until al dente (tender yet firm). Drain and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
- While pasta cooks, make sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and Parmesan until combined. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, cook pancetta or bacon until crispy, about 3-4 minutes. Toss the minced garlic into the fat and saute for less than 1-minute to soften. Add drained tuna to skillet. Mix to combine. Alternatively, if omitting pork, add 2TBSP olive oil to skillet and follow the same instructions.
- Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for about 2ish minutes to coat in the bacon fat with tuna*
- Remove the pan from heat and pour the egg/Parm mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this doesn't happen).
- Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency (optional).
- Serve Tuna Carbonara in bowls, and garnish with fresh black pepper, chopped parsley and additional Parmesan. Dig in!
Delicious! I halved the recipe, but otherwise followed it exactly. This is definitely a do again! Thank you!
So glad you enjoyed, Beth! Love that you halved it – perfect serving for one (versus me who can’t help but go back and pick at the leftovers because it’s so good!)