Pasta Salad with Lemon

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This is the delicious pasta salad with lemon you’ve been looking for! It’s light, juicy, loaded with Mediterranean flavors, and makes a fabulous lunch ready in no time.

Two wooden spoons are mixing the tuna pasta salad in a bowl.

Forget soggy tasteless pasta salad, this simple recipe is a game-changer.

The refreshing juice and zest, mixed with olive oil and garlic, make this pasta salad so good and tasty you can’t get enough of it.

Bonus? It’s light, fresh, and juicy without being loaded with oil, mayonnaise, or other heavy dressings. And I loved it till the point I started eating it in the middle of this photo shooting!

Plus, like most of my quick pasta recipes, it’s ready in less than 15 minutes, takes minimal effort, keeps very well. It’s perfect for any summertime gathering!

What ingredients you need

  • Pasta (fusilli, penne, shells…)
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Pitted olives
  • Good quality canned tuna (optional)
  • Lemon
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil or olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
The ingredients for this tuna pasta salad are arranged on a white marble table and a wooden chopping board.

How to make it

(Note: the full recipe is at the bottom of the page)

  • Cook your pasta until al dente.
  • Add tomatoes, olives, tuna, celery slices, lemon zest to a large bowl.
  • Stir in olive oil, lemon juice, grated garlic, salt, pepper, and mix well.
  • Drain, rinse the pasta under cool water once it’s done, and let it drain.
  • Toss the pasta and the other ingredients.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Tuna pasta salad with cherry tomatoes and olives on a white plate with a blue rim.

This is one of the most crowd-friendly dishes, so quick, easy, and convenient and perfect for a BBQ or a picnic.  Make a big batch, and take it to work as well, it makes an excellent meal prep idea and keeps well for days. 

Tuna pasta salad with olive and tomatoes is served in a white plate with a blue rim.Recipe updated: originally posted in September 2019, I’ve tweaked the post adding more notes and new pictures.

More quick pasta recipes?

If you make this tuna pasta salad or if you have any questions, leave a comment, rate it, or tag a photo #theclevermeal on Instagram.
I would love to hear from you!

Close-up of a bowl of lemon pasta salad.
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Pasta Salad with Lemon

This tuna pasta salad is packed with Mediterranean flavors like tomatoes, olives, tuna and a fantastic lemon garlic dressing. It's so delicious, juicy, light and ready in no time.
Prep Time12 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Course: pasta, Salad
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: Tuna pasta salad
Servings: 3 servings
Calories: 495kcal
Author: Katia


  • 1/2 lb (220 grams) dried pasta (fusilli, penne, farfalle…)
  • 1½ cup (250 grams) cherry tomatoes, cut in halves or in slices
  • 1 can (5-oz/140 grams) tuna, in oil or in water (optional)
  • 1/3 cup (60 grams) black, green, or mixed olives, pitted
  • 2-3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 large lemon, juice and zest
  • 3 Tbsps olive oil or extra virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated or minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  • Cook your pasta until al dente, drain, then rinse under cold water and drain again. 
    You want to bring the temperature down, and dress your pasta when cold, not warm.
  • While pasta is cooking, place all the other ingredients in a large salad bowl. 
  • Season with plenty of salt and freshly ground pepper and toss well.
  • Add cooked pasta to the other ingredients and mix thoroughly, taste and season again before serving. Also, you might want to add extra lemon juice or olive oil.
  • You can enjoy straight away or store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Pasta salad gets better as it rests and it tastes even better the next day.


  • STORAGE: This tuna pasta salad keeps very well and it will last for 3-4 days.  Store it in airtight container and place in the refrigerator.
  • TUNA: look for a brand that uses responsibly sourced and high quality tuna. I used Wild Planet brand.
  • OLIVES: green olives or kalamata olives work very well. I used mixed unpitted olives, but I strongly recommend you to go for pitted olives, especially if you serve this pasta salad to children.
  • PASTA: short pasta like fusilli, conchiglie, farfalle, penne work fine. However, have a proper look at the label and go for durum wheat semolina pasta, it’s a bit more expensive than basic pasta, but it’s resilient and has a more robust texture, the best choice when it comes to salad pasta recipes.
NOTE: Nutritional values are estimates only.


Calories: 495kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 462mg | Potassium: 548mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 632IU | Vitamin C: 39mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 3mg


  1. Laura Tancredi says:

    5 stars
    We made it tonight for dinner and it was just delicious! It was easy to make and perfect for a midweek dinner.

    1. I’m so pleased to hear that! Thanks for sharing your lovely feedback, Laura. Cheers x

  2. I found the recipe tonight! Looks grand. We’re having it tomorrow night, then I’ll let you know how well it goes us.

    1. Brilliant! let me know how it turns out.. 😉

  3. 5 stars
    Tried this for dinner today. It was so good! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. I’m so please you liked it! Thanks for sharing your lovely feedback x

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