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Olive Oil Tuna Spread with Lemon and Oregano

November 25, 2012

If you have a can of good-quality tuna in your pantry, you probably have everything you need to make this quick appetizer. Olive Oil Tuna Spread with Lemon and Oregano is from Patricia Wells’ Trattoria: Simple and Robust Fare Inspired by the Small Family Restaurants of Italy.

I used a 6-ounce can of Fishing Vessel St. Jude Mediterranean Solid White Albacore Tuna which is canned in extra virgin olive oil, but any brand of albacore tuna packed in olive oil would work. Ideally, you want a tuna with just 3 ingredients: tuna, olive oil, and salt.

This could have been spread with a knife, but its consistency was like a dip, so most people just dipped the crackers in it. Crudities, especially celery, would have been good dippers, too.

I made the Olive Oil Tuna Spread with Lemon and Oregano to take to a party and it was very well-received. I know I’ll be sure to keep some good tuna on hand for the holidays so I can make it again.


I happened to have some parsley, so I garnished the spread, but it’s optional and wasn’t included in the original recipe.


Olive Oil Tuna Spread with Lemon and Oregano

(Adapted from Patricia Wells’ Trattoria)


The amount of olive oil that you add will depend on how much is in the can of tuna. Patricia calls for 2 tablespoons of oil, but there was so much oil in my can of tuna that I just added 1 tablespoon.

Tip from Patricia Wells:  If you can’t find tuna in olive oil, you can use a high-quality tuna packed in water. Drain the water and add an additional tablespoon of olive oil to the recipe.


(print the recipe)


Serves 10 – 12


1 (6-ounce) can tuna packed in olive oil (do not drain)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

Freshly grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 – 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 large clove of garlic, peeled

3 – 4 dashes of Tabasco sauce

Salt and pepper, to taste


For serving: breadsticks, crackers, toasted baguette slices, celery sticks or carrot sticks (Use gluten-free crackers for a gluten-free appetizer.)


1. Put the can of tuna, including the olive oil it’s packed in, into a food processor. Add the butter, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, oregano, garlic, and Tabasco sauce.

2. Process until it is smooth and creamy. Taste for seasoning and add a bit of salt and pepper, if needed.

3. Put the tuna spread in a serving bowl and serve with the “dippers” of your choice.

If not serving right away, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving. Stir well and serve.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. November 25, 2012 10:40 pm

    Mmmmmmmm delicious!

  2. December 5, 2012 3:44 am

    oh Tuna with a light squeeze of lemon on it is wonderful, on some crusty baguette as well… Perfect

  3. December 5, 2012 6:58 am

    What a delicious and healthy spread! Packed with protein and good healthy fats. I’ll take a bowl please! I’m glad to be back visiting your blog! I have had to check out of the internet world for the past month or so, and it feels good to be back. I hope you have a beautiful day!

    • December 10, 2012 7:17 am

      Thanks, Monet! I’ve stocked up on some tuna to be ready for last-minute appetizers. Glad you’re back, and hope your move has gone well.

  4. December 14, 2012 5:48 am

    Kath, this sounds wonderful. I love Patricia Wells and have never had a problem with her recipes. I’ll have to make it a point to whip this up at some point during the holiday. Have a great weekend. Blessings…Mary

    • December 23, 2012 5:49 pm

      Thanks, Mary! I think you will like it. Have a wonderful Christmas with your family.

  5. December 23, 2012 5:25 pm

    I think I would like to use this in a sandwich and not just for crackers and chips! What a nice change to the average sandwich and this inspiration gives me the idea to use it with smashed chickpeas instead of tuna when I am feeling non-tuna-y! 🙂 Merry Christmas my friend.

    • December 23, 2012 5:50 pm

      It would make a great sandwich, Dionne, and I love your idea of using chickpeas! Merry Christmas to you, too! 🙂


  1. Olive Oil Tuna Spread with Lemon and Oregano « In the kitchen with … | ClubEvoo

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