Sunday, June 14, 2015

Tuscan Tuna Pasta Salad

When the weather warms up, I really like to eat dinners that don’t require heating up anything in the kitchen. It makes the house hot and me hot, so I like to minimize that. Salads are the perfect thing then.

Tuna is something I don’t usually make much, but it is one of those omega-3 foods that should really have a place in our diets, provided it is responsibly caught. You’ll find the company’s stance on that usually on the label - for instance, Wild Planet’s line of fish. You can find this brand at Whole Foods or Sprouts Farmers Markets here in Southern California.

I used to always get albacore canned in water but I recently discovered the taste of yellowfin tuna canned in olive oil and it makes a big difference! The oil keeps it really moist and the Yellowfin variety has a very mild, un-fishy taste to it. I like it better than albacore now.

Yellowfin Tuna

Anyway, the tuna salad most of us think of is usually coated in mayonnaise, and that’s fine once in a while, especially when you have a fishy tasting fish and want to cover it up with mayo and pickle relish. But I have found that I like tuna salad best when it’s made with an oil and lemon juice dressing. It has a cleaner, fresher taste to it I think, and it allows the flavors of all the other ingredients to come through, especially when there’s a lot going on like in this salad.

Tuscan Tuna Pasta Salad

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
1 lb. gluten-free pasta
2 cans tuna in oil, drained and flaked, preferably Yellowfin packed in olive oil
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/2 cup shredded basil leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped green onion
Salt and pepper to taste
Lettuce leaves
Lemon wedges

  1. Place the oil, crushed red pepper and tomatoes in a jar and shake well to combine. Set aside for 1 hour.
  2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until just tender, following the package instructions. Drain and place into a salad bowl. 
  3. Stir in the oil mixture, tuna, olives, and half of the basil. Season with salt and pepper as needed. 
  4. Divide the salad among 4 plates, placing the tuna over a large lettuce leaf, and sprinkle on the Parmesan and remaining basil. Squeeze a little lemon over the top before serving.
Sometimes I add a few more things to spice up my tuna salad even more: cherry tomatoes cut in half, chopped cucumber or celery for a little crunch, a hard-boiled egg, and instead of the kalamata olives, sometimes I use a little olive tapenade which provides even more interesting flavors because it has capers and a few other things in it. Get creative and add whatever suits you. Today I added garbanzo beans which was pretty unique, and tasted better than I thought it would.

Print Friendly