When I think of tuna salad, I think about my dad. Egg salad, tuna salad, chili, and cinnamon toast are his specialties – and tuna salad was a lunch staple growing up. Little teeny dill gherkin pickles and diced hard-boiled egg were what made his extra special.
As delicious as tuna is, people tend to turn up their noses to tuna salad – let’s face it, it smells… I think it happens to make a lovely work lunch and an easy dinner. And I’m at the point where I no longer apologize for the smell when I eat it at work. “I’m a grown up and I’m eating tuna salad.” 😀
I am a big fan of Italian tuna, or tonno – it’s generally packed in olive oil, and I find it to be 1000 times more delicious than American tuna, which is often packed in water or less flavorful oils. I also find that other brands of tuna tend to be very broken up and mushy – Italian tonno comes out of the can, and you can tell it’s fish – it’s a filet packed into the can. Will you pay a little more for this tuna? Yes, but it’s worth it. My two cents.
I particularly like tuna salad in the summer when I’ll do anything to NOT use the stove, and I like it for dinner during the school year when it’s crazy busy and I don’t really want to cook (especially because I can make tuna salad the day before). To be honest, I also prefer a drier tuna salad – I don’t like when there’s too much dressing. I’d suggest you start with my amount and then slowly add more yogurt/mayo until it’s to your liking.
The best side to this easy meal is a salad that’s just as easy – mixed baby greens with a nice vinaigrette. I don’t buy dressing because I a) like the taste of mine better and b) it takes about a minute to whip up. While I make many vinaigrettes, the two I tend to fall back on are lemon and champagne vinegar. I like the light flavor of champagne vinegar – it’s perfect for a salad composed only of greens. If you’ve never had champagne vinegar, it’s a wine vinegar, but much more subtle than white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar. Wine vinegars are essentially the result of leaving wine in an open jar to oxidize for a few weeks, but I just buy it at the grocery store.
I hope you enjoy the tuna salad and vinaigrette! The recipes for each are below.
Easy Tuna Salad
makes about 4 sandwiches
- 2, 6-ounce cans tuna, drained
- 1 celery rib, diced
- 1/2 small red onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard (or more to taste)
- 1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt or low-fat sour cream
- 1 tablespoon olive oil mayo
- 1/2 lemon, juiced (or more to taste)
- salt + pepper, to taste
- In a medium-sized bowl, break the tuna up gently with a fork so that there are some small pieces but not totally ground up. Add the celery and onion, and the liquid ingredients. Gently fold together, trying not to over-mix. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add more yogurt, a tablespoon at a time, for a wetter tuna salad. Serve on your favorite bread (I prefer whole wheat, whole grain, or sourdough.)
makes about 1.25 cups
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 garlic clove or 1/2 shallot minced (optional)
- Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Season to taste. Dress over any salad. For an extra kick, add a minced clove of garlic or 1/2 minced shallot.