Prepare your penne pasta according to the package directions, 10 to 12 minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside. You will make your sauce during the last 5 minutes of your noodles boiling.
In a large skillet, on medium-high heat, add the olive oil, minced garlic, capers, and red pepper flakes. Stir and heat for 30 seconds to one minute or just until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the lemon juice and whipped cream cheese to the skillet. Stir until the cream cheese has completely melted and blended with the other ingredients to create a sauce.
Turn the heat down to low and add the drained pasta, grated parmesan cheese, drained tuna, and chopped fresh parsley.
Gently toss all the pasta, sauce, cheese, and tuna together, being careful not to break up the chunks of tuna too much. Garnish with the additional sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese, fresh chopped parsley, and lemon zest.
If you think that you do not like capers, then I highly suggest you give them a try in this tuna recipe. They add a beautiful “salty-ness” to the sauce and pair very well with lemon and tuna. You can leave them out of the recipe; however, I suggest you replace them with ½ teaspoon of salt in the sauce.
You can easily double this recipe using a full one-pound box of penne pasta.
I will often reserve ¼ to ½ cup of the starchy pasta cooking water from boiling my pasta before I drain it. When I am making quick, thin sauces, I find that if I add a tablespoon or so of the reserved pasta water to the sauce, it will slightly thicken the sauce and thin it if necessary.
This tuna pasta salad recipe is best served while it is still warm.