You’ll want to make this Tuna Pasta Salad dish over and over again. It’s light, healthy, filling, delicious, and easy to make.
My parents never cooked with tuna when I was growing up, so I never ate it. In college I began eating it a little more often, mainly at home for lunch in tuna fish sandwiches. Tuna steaks are popular on restaurant menus, but I am a huge texture eater so I have a hard time eating the seared steaks. Instead, I stick with the Albacore tuna at the grocery store. Yes, I know that Albacore has more mercury, and a lot of mercury is bad for you. However, I prefer the texture of Albacore over chunk white, and I don’t eat nearly enough tuna to suffer any negative effects.
When I first began buying tuna at the grocery store, single serving packages were nearly non-existent. So I had to have a couple of tuna recipes in mind so that it wouldn’t go to waste. Fortunately that changed a few years ago, and now there are tons of options. Pre-seasoned/flavored tuna is the newest rage, but I prefer to add my own seasonings.
For a while I had a bad habit where I bought tuna, put it in the pantry, and completely forgot about it. I’ve made a more concerted effort to eat tuna more regularly, because it’s a quick and easy way to get more seafood into my diet. Pinterest has come to the rescue, but I still have a few standard recipes that I rotate.
One of my very early creations is Tuna Pasta Salad. I’ve been making this recipe for years, but just never got around to writing a post about it.
This Tuna Pasta Salad is light, yet filling and really delicious. When I first made this dish, I used raw carrots, celery and onions. I liked the crunch, and the contrast in texture from the tuna and pasta. I also added the peas and asparagus to the past for the last few minutes of cooking. More recently, I’ve been sauteeing the vegetables; it adds a greater depth of flavor, but still retains the crunch.
Elbows is my favorite shape for this Tuna Pasta Salad, though I’ve experimented with penne and other short cuts. I normally use red onions for the color, but will substitute yellow in a pinch. For the vegetables I use asparagus and frozen peas, but green beans or snap peas would be great substitutes. I use light mayonnaise, and use just enough to bring everything together. For the mustard I use what’s handy in the pantry, but lean towards a grainy brown mustard or jalapeno mustard for a little kick. I usually add a few dashes of hot sauce as well.
My most recent addition to the dish, and quite possibly my favorite, is high-quality balsamic vinegar. My friend Dianne introduced me to Lucero Balsamic Vinegar about 2 years ago, and it immediately became one of my favorite pantry items. It is thick and rich, and a little goes a long way. I admit I do still have regular balsamic in my pantry, but that is for when I’m using large quantities.
Tuna Pasta Salad is a dish I don’t make nearly often enough. I think I just forget about it, which makes no sense because it’s one of my favorite recipes. It’s perfect for a light lunch, and would be wonderful for a picnic or potluck.
Tuna Pasta Salad
- 4 ounces short pasta
- 6 ounces white Albacore tuna, drained
- 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons brown mustard
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 Tablespoon Margarine
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup onions, diced
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- 1/2 cup carrots, diced
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 10 spears raw asparagus, cut into 1/2" pieces
- 1 Tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar I use Lucero
- Cook pasta according to box directions in a pot of salted, boiling water
- Melt margarine in medium sized skillet
- Add onion, garlic, carrots and celery to skillet. Sautee until onions are translucent and carrots/celery are softened
- Add peas and asparagus, and continue to sautee until asparagus is tender-crisp
- Meanwhile, add tuna to separate bowl and flake
- Add mayonnaise, mustard, salt & pepper to tuna
- Add sauteed vegetables and pasta to bowl, and combine completely
- If needed, add a little more salt/pepper
- Portion into bowls
- Drizzle with balsamic vinegar