Power-Packed Tuna Salad
Think you don't like tuna salad? This mild-tasting, colorful version loaded with healthy vegetables and nuts may have you re-thinking your stance. Over the years as a chef, I've heard all kinds of reasons people don't like tuna salad, such as "it's mushy", "it tastes fishy", among others. Here are a few reasons to love it, or at least learn to appreciate it.
First of all, tuna is extremely good for you. It's packed with Omega 3 Fatty Acids, great for your heart and eyesight, brain health, to name a few benefits. In addition to the health benefits, canned tuna can help you maintain a healthy weight. Concerns about mercury content can be alleviated by limiting canned tuna consumption to no more than 1 serving a week of white tuna/albacore if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to become pregnant, according to the FDA.
Second, tuna is extremely portable and a quick go-to source of protein. With 14g of protein in just 2 ounces, it's a good choice for a healthy lunch.
My tuna salad is full of vegetables, fruit & nuts. This recipe is inspired by a tuna salad I used to get on a regular basis when I worked in the corporate world. I adapted it to make it my own and encourage you to do the same!
Start with pole-and-line caught or trolled tuna/albacore. Any light/white tuna works, but I like the texture of solid white tuna because it holds up when adding mayo and other ingredients and doesn't get mushy when you drain the water off after opening the can. As a bonus, the solid white albacore tends to not taste as "fishy" as other kinds of canned tuna. Drain the liquid from the tuna, pressing out any excess. Break it up into a mixing bowl.
Next, use a food processor to pulse some broccoli, carrots, red onion, and apple (I like a sweet red apple such as gala or fuji). Toss chopped vegetables in with the tuna, and then add some finely chopped pecans or walnuts (I prefer pecans but you can use whatever you have). Don't like broccoli? No problem, leave it out. Still want some green veggies in your tuna? How about some finely chopped spinach, or some celery for added crunch? The key is to make it your own, and use what you have. Don't be afraid to experiment and find out what you like in your tuna salad.
To inspire your creativity, here are a few other ideas for mix-ins for tuna salad:
- Cranberries with pecans and a little lemon zest
- Dried italian seasoning, onion, halved grape tomatoes
- Seedless grapes & apples
- Go old school and add chopped boiled egg and some sweet relish and onion
- Skip the mayo and add chopped tomatoes, red onion, cannellini beans and toss with
The last step is to add some mayonnaise. I prefer Helmanns, but you can use whatever you have. I start with 1/2 cup, mix everything up, and then see if I need more. To me, there's nothing worse than too much mayo in tuna salad! You can always add more.
My favorite way to enjoy this tuna salad is in a traditional sandwich, with some butter lettuce, sliced tomato and fresh sprouts. Those who are avoiding carbs can enjoy it over some baby spinach, sliced tomato and top with fresh sprouts. Delicious!
Here's the recipe:
Power-Packed Tuna Salad
- 3 5oz cans albacore or light tuna in water
- 2 small or 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into small pieces
- 1 small sweet red apple (gala, red delicious, fuji), cored and cut into small chunks
- 1/2 small onion
- 1/2 cup broccoli florets, broken into small pieces
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise, more or less to taste
1. Drain tuna and press excess water out. Break into smaller pieces in a large mixing bowl.
2. Place carrots, apple, onion, broccoli and pecans in a food processor. Pulse until chopped and uniform, but not mushy.
3. Add chopped vegetables to tuna in mixing bowl.
4. Add mayonnaise and stir to combine.