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I grew up eating tuna noodle casserole (and its leftovers) weekly. Once I moved out for college, I fully wrote off the combination of pasta and tuna. Recently, however, I came back to it. Chalk it up to the price of groceries, if you will, but really, it’s because I craved nostalgia. Rather than a casserole, I wanted to make something that came together even faster, with fewer dishes to clean. It still needed to be creamy and comforting, though, which is exactly how this one-pot orzo came to life.
This recipe is very loosely inspired by the retro casserole of my youth, but its resemblance stops there. Orzo is toasted in lots of olive oil then simmered in broth, where it’s stirred here and there to lend a risotto-like creaminess to the dish. Briny capers and lemon add pops of brightness, and chunks of tuna bring hearty protein.
A Case for Tuna Beyond Sandwiches
There’s so much you can do with a can of tuna; keeping multiple cans on hand is always a smart move. My preferred brand is Tonnino, which truthfully changed my opinion about tuna in the first place. I grew up with dry, crumbly, flavorless cans and didn’t realize there was anything better until I tried a jar. The olive oil-packed jars are my favorite because the oil locks in the fish’s flavor and moisture beautifully and I like to reuse the jars for homemade condiments and dressings, but they also make cans (and a water-packed version, if you prefer). High-quality tuna makes all the difference when it’s the star of the dish, like it is in this one-pot pasta, so it’s well-worth reaching for. It’s the secret to turning the humble pantry staple into something so much more.
Pantry Pasta is Sheela Prakash‘s monthly column of easy, accessible pasta recipes. You’ll discover a new, inspired recipe each month that takes advantage of grocery staples and highlights one pantry hero. Follow along and grab all the recipes here.