World Pasta Day 2018 – Pasta with Tuna, Chickpeas and Tomatoes

Today marks World Pasta Day 2018  and while we often think of pasta in terms of the Mediterranean, it’s a staple of many cuisines around the globe. This year’s celebrations are taking place in Dubai, the site of a special 20th anniversary international gathering, where the activities are demonstrating the inclusiveness of pasta in cuisines around the world.

Popular dishes from around the world are on the menu at the event organized by the International Pasta Organization. Here are some of the offerings which show just how diverse pasta dishes can be:

Here is what’s on the menu on World Pasta Day 2018, including several vegetarian and/or vegan options:

Dawood Basha with Vermicelli Rice – A mixture of cooked rice and vermicelli pasta served with Lebanese minced meatballs embedded with spices and braised in a tomato sauce. (Lebanon)

Kushari (vegetarian/vegan) – A one-pot meal that combines lentils, macaroni pasta, and rice, topped with a tomato sauce that uses fried onions, Middle Eastern spice mix, and chickpeas, is a national favorite of Egypt. (Egypt)

Vermicelli Upma (vegetarian/vegan) – A nutritious south Indian breakfast dish that consists of vermicelli pasta cooked with mustard seeds, nuts, curry leaves, spices, and chopped veggies especially carrots, beans, and onions. (India)

Vermicelli Kheer (vegetarian) – A popular milk-based pudding that consists of vermicelli pasta sauteed brown in clarified butter, cooked in milk flavored with cardamom and topped with nuts & raisins. (Indian Subcontinent – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh & Sri Lanka)

Curry Pasta Salad (vegetarian) – A salad of fusilli or penne pasta tossed with warmed spices such as Cayenne pepper, curry powder, chili powder, and Turmeric mixed with a touch of mayonnaise. (South Africa)

Mac n Cheese (vegetarian) – A baked casserole of cooked macaroni pasta and cheese sauce is a favorite comfort food loved by both kids and adults equally. (America)

Balaleet – (vegetarian/vegan without egg) – A popular breakfast dish that consists of vermicelli sweetened with sugar and flavored with cardamom, rose water and saffron. It is served with an omelet on top. (Middle East)

The event will also be the kickoff “The Power of Pasta”, a global charity initiative where about 2 million pasta plates will be donated to local organizations involved in the fight against hunger.
For more information and recipes, go to

Here’s a favourite pasta dish of mine. It’s an example of pasta as a fast food offering as it can be ready in about the time it takes to cook the noodles. It also mainly calls for ingredients you likely have in your pantry so no extra shopping trips are required.

It’s a recipe highlighting the best of what the Mediterranean diet has to offer – healthy carbs, like pasta and legumes (lots of fibre) along with fish, tomatoes, garlic, onions and extra virgin olive oil.  Be sure to cook the pasta al dente so that it has a low glycemic index. For this dish, the best flavour is provided by Italian tuna, canned in olive oil. But if you prefer, it’s still delicious when prepared with water-packed tuna varieties.

Pasta with Tuna, Chickpeas and Tomatoes

12 ounces short pasta (fusilli, penne etc.), preferably whole wheat
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
1 1/3 cups chickpeas (if using canned, rinsed and drained)
1 can tuna ( approximately 6- 7-oz/169 – 198 g depending on the type used), drained
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until cooked al dente.

Meanwhile heat 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat; add garlic and onion and sauté about about 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add chickpeas and tuna and heat, stirring regularly until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and sauté until the tomatoes are just heated through or the first one splits open.

Before draining pasta, reserve about ¼ cup pasta water. Drain pasta; add to skillet with reserved pasta water and toss with chick pea, tuna mixture. Heat through and add remaining oil and toss. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Makes 4 servings

Nutrition information per serving:
• Calories: 444
• Protein: 27 grams
• Fat: 15 grams
• Saturated fat: 4 grams
• Carbohydrate: 77 grams
• Dietary fibre: 14 grams
• Sodium: 399 milligrams


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Categories: Recipes, Whole Foods

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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