This simple canned mackerel pasta is quick, healthy, and delicious with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, fresh parsley, and a light olive oil sauce.
If you're wondering what to make with canned mackerel, you're in the right place!
I will say that canned mackerel probably isn't for everyone, but it does have its perks such as being fairly low in mercury. It's an oily fish (which is great for omega-3s, but some people will find it to be more of a "fishy" tasting kinda fish vs. something milder like tuna). Also, depending on the brand you buy, the taste can vary quite a bit, so don't give up if you tried it once and didn't like it.
So, if you're a canned mackerel fan or you just happen to have a couple of stray cans in your pantry that need to be used up, give this recipe a try. You may also like my Canned Mackerel Salad.
How to make mackerel pasta (overview):
Boil a salted pot of water for the pasta. When it's nearly done, start making the sauce. Add the oil and garlic to a skillet and sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in the mackerel, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and lemon juice and let it warm through. Reserve one cup of the pasta water prior to draining it. To the skillet, add the drained pasta, spinach, parmesan cheese, and parsley. Toss, gradually adding the pasta water as needed, until the spinach has wilted and the sauce is smooth. (Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below)
Recipe notes & tips:
- I've tried a couple brands recently when testing mackerel recipes, and King Oscar is my favorite. Here in Canada I buy it from Amazon.
- I use unsmoked mackerel for this recipe, but you can use smoked if you prefer.
- This pasta recipe is very flexible. Feel free to add/sub ingredients as needed. Kalamata olives would go well in here if you happen to enjoy them.
- This recipe will work with canned tuna or canned salmon instead of the mackerel.
- As always, I recommend grating your own parmesan cheese as it will melt more easily and taste a lot better than the pre-grated varieties. I use my Microplane to grate it.
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Questions about this mackerel pasta? Let me know in the comments below!
Canned Mackerel Pasta
- 8 ounces uncooked pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 (4 ounce) cans mackerel drained
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes drained & chopped
- 2 tablespoons capers drained
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2 cups (packed) fresh baby spinach
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Boil a salted pot of water for the pasta and cook it al dente according to package instructions. You will need to reserve some pasta water before draining it.
- When the pasta is about 8-10 minutes away from being done, add the oil and garlic to a skillet over medium heat. Once the garlic starts to sizzle, give it a stir and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add the mackerel, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and lemon juice to the pan. Let it heat through for a few minutes.
- Reserve 1 cup of the hot pasta water prior to draining the pasta.
- Add the drained pasta, spinach, parsley, and parmesan to the skillet. Toss (this is easy with tongs or 2 large spoons), slowly adding pasta water (as needed... you won't use it all) and continuously tossing until the spinach has wilted and the parmesan cheese has melted into the sauce.
- Season with salt & pepper as needed and serve immediately.
- Serves 2-4 depending on how much pasta you make and what else you serve it with (it makes 4 reasonable/smaller portions). If you want to feed 2 people with lots of sauce, keep the sauce ingredients the same and use half the pasta.
- Canned mackerel brands can vary a lot. King Oscar is my favorite brand to buy.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.