Wellness Wednesday: Immune Boosting Pantry Pasta

Good morning. I hope your week is off to a better start than my own. After waking up tired on Monday, I pushed on with my day – gym, groceries, chores, etc. – only to come down with a sore throat and general malaise by Tuesday. I'm currently throwing everything at it – gargle, herbal teas, vitamins, my favourite Ginger Tumeric kombucha (MOJO), and plenty of chilli and garlic laced healthy food.

It's a frustration I'm sure many of you can relate to. I had just gotten back into a gym routine and was trying to eat with more attention to healthy choices and portion control, but a couple of nights of poor sleep as well as having a sick daughter home a week ago – and here we are.

So I'm resting up and so far my week feels awfully lazy. It's sweltering hot again here, so I've just been resting, reading, watching movies and having the occasional dip in the pool, which is lovely and warm at the moment. So, obviously, it's not all bad!

Since I'm too sick to work out, I've been paying extra attention to my diet, but wanted meals I could make easily and quickly. This old standby pantry Chilli Tuna Pasta has come to the rescue twice this week already and since I make it so often and it's so convenient, I thought it would be a good recipe to share. Not that this is intended to be a food blog really, but I do enjoy cooking and like to experiment in the kitchen. And the enjoyment of food is certainly one of life's great aesthetic pleasures!

Anyone who has followed me on Instagram for a while has probably seen me mention this spicy tuna pasta dish before. It's terribly hard to get a good photo of, but couldn't be easier to make. Although I absolutely love this meal, I always feel when sharing it that it's less a recipe than simply a bowl full of some of my favourite ingredients mixed together! So apologies if you aren't in Australia and can't find the exact, or similar, produce.

Since San Remo brought out their Pulse Pasta range, I have been hooked and I always have some in my pantry. This whole range is gluten free and offers the health benefits of being high in protein and fibre and, most importantly, they don't turn mushy when cooked as directed and have a wonderfully soft al dente texture. For this recipe I usually use the Peas, Lentils, Chickpeas and Berlotti Beans Penne https://sanremo.com.au/products/pulse-pasta-penne/. But the Chickpea spirals https://sanremo.com.au/products/pulse-pasta-chickpeas-spirals/ or Red Lentil spirals https://sanremo.com.au/products/pulse-pasta-red-lentils-spirals/ also work well. Of course, you could use whatever pasta you like. Other brands such as Barilla and Banza also have pulse pasta varieties. A brown rice, buckwheat or wholemeal pasta would also work nicely. For a single serve, I use approximately ⅓‒½ a box depending on how hungry I am. One box contains 250g dried pasta. It's worth noting that this is not a low calorie pasta, but a wholefood, and is actually quite filling. If I add broccoli florets (add to the pasta water for the last few minutes) then as little as one cup of dried pulse pasta is sometimes enough. The broccoli makes a really nice addition and is loaded with Vitamin C. I did add it the first time this week, but forgot to take a picture of that! I've only set out the recipe for a single serve as this is something I often make myself for lunch after the gym, or for a quick dinner when Paul is away, but it would be easy to increase the quantity for more people, since the chilli tuna is also available in larger tins.

Speaking of the tuna, the reason I have specified a brand here is because Sirena tuna is pretty much the only canned tuna I will eat. They have a huge range available here in Australia with many flavours and some low fat options, but it's essentially an Italian chunk style tuna in an olive oil blend and it's juicy, pink and satisfyingly savory. No bland, grey mush to be seen! I did really miss this product while living in the US and occasionally splashed out on a jar of the imported Italian style tuna in olive oil, which was the closest I could find in taste and texture. The Sirena tuna with Chilli in Oil is one of my favouites (https://www.sirena.com.au/products/chilli-in-oil/). They do also have a triple chilli version if you're feeling brave! I usually drain some, but not all, of the oil off before adding to the pasta and remove the small red chilli from the top, but you could easily throw the whole contents of the can in for some extra heat.

The rest of the flavour punch in this dish comes courtesy of the Jamie Oliver Chilli Garlic Pesto. This is an unusual pesto; thinner and smoother than the basil or sun-dried tomato pesto varieties, this doesn't contain nuts or cheese, but is a concentrated tomato base with a big hit of chilli and garlic and a little oregano. You don't need a lot of this to add plenty of flavour and it seems to keep really well in the fridge once opened. I use this pesto so often though that I'm always afraid it will be discontinued, so I plan to figure out how to recreate it from scratch some day. Let me know if that's something you'd like me to share. For now, this product is available in Australia at Woolworths (https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/productdetails/774320/jamie-oliver-pesto-chilli-and-garlic), some overseas supermarkets (it seems Waitrose usually have it) and on Amazon (US https://www.amazon.com/Jamie-Oliver-Chilli-Garlic-Pesto/dp/B01D6D65VA, AU https://www.amazon.com.au/Jamie-Oliver-Chilli-Garlic-Pesto/dp/B015QB64OS) and Ocado (https://www.ocado.com/products/jamie-oliver-chilli-garlic-pesto-83545011).

Family friendly: This is likely a bit too spicy for young children; it's far to spicy for my somewhat picky eight year old! But she loves pasta and enjoys the pulse pastas very much, so if I'm making this dish for myself, I simply cook enough pasta for both of us and serve hers with a simple sauce and some parmesan cheese. My daughter only really enjoys a very basic marinara/tomato basil sauce, but if I don't have one open, she is just as happy with some plain passata, finely chopped baby spinach and cheese. I just put her sauce and veg directly in her bowl, warm it slightly in the microwave and then stir through her serve of pasta with the cheese. The rest of my spicy dish is put together back in the pasta pot, so there's no extra washing up. Or see some alternative ideas after the recipe below.


● 1-2 cups (dried) San Remo Pulse pasta
● 1 small can (95g) Sirena Tuna in Chilli oil
● ⅓ to ½ a jar of Jamie Oliver Chilli Garlic Pesto
● 1-2 cups of rocket/arugula (I chop mine but that's optional)
● Squeeze of lemon juice (approx 1 tsp)

*Optional: 1-2 cups small broccoli florets make a nice addition. If using, throw in with the pasta for the last few minutes of cooking.

Note: Don't forget to reserve about ½ cup of pasta water before draining.


● Cook pasta in a medium saucepan of salted boiling water according to packet instructions.
● Reserve ½ cup of pasta water.
● Drain pasta and return to saucepan over very low heat.
● Flake in tuna with a fork
● Add rocket, squeeze of lemon juice, pesto and a splash of the pasta water
● Stir gently and add extra pasta water if required.

Let me know if you make this and if you enjoy it!

Vegetarian – Omit tuna, include broccoli, add crumbled fetta and toasted pinenuts or parmesan/pecorino.
Vegan – Omit tuna, include the broccoli, use a little extra pesto and toasted pinenuts or slivered almonds.
Hate fish – replace the tuna with pulled chicken and add extra spicy pesto for a healthy, protein packed meal.
Kids – see above, or if you'd rather just make one meal, a similar idea minus the chilli would be to use a classic bought basil pesto (or homemade avocado pesto – I'll try to include a recipe for this in a later post) with the Sirena tuna in basil oil.

*This post is not sponsored in any way by any of the brands mentioned. They are simply long-time favourites! 


  1. Hello all, there currently seems to be an issue leaving comments from Safari/mobiles. If you want to comment and have this issue, I was able to add this from my iphone by clearing the cache and turning OFF prevent cross site tracking and block all cookies (temporarily), which is far from ideal I know. Hoping a proper fix will be available soon. As far as I know other browsers should be ok. Thanks for your patience.


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