I never expected to use words like “fresh,” “vibrant,” and perhaps most astonishing of all, “WOW!” to describe something as seemingly stodgy as tuna salad, but this Italian Tuna Salad proves that delight can be found in even the most unexpected places.
Say hello to tuna salad as you have never had it before.
Made with bold, lively ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes and capers, plus a zip of lemon and hit of parsley, this updated twist on classic tuna salad will surprise you.
Forget mushy, bland tuna salads of the past. This one has texture, dimension, and despite the fact that it’s made almost exclusively of pantry ingredients, it tastes incredibly fresh.
When you’re looking for a healthy reset, finding fast recipes (like Avocado Egg Salad) you can pull together with what you have on hand can be a challenge, especially when you are trying to cook three meals a day, often for multiple people.
Let this Italian-inspired tuna salad recipe help out. It is one of the best, most delicious things you can do with canned tuna.
Speaking of canned items we all may or may not have purchased too much of over the last few months, this recipe also makes good use of canned white beans.
The beans add creamy texture and satisfying fiber and protein. I bet you’ll want them in your tuna salad from now on! (Be sure to try this Chickpea Tuna Salad too.)
- You can serve this healthy tuna salad with lettuce, as a tuna salad sandwich (my favorite is on English muffins), or turn it into a tuna melt.
- We also love to serve tuna salad as wraps or even on crackers for a snack.
- Pair it with a fresh Fruit Salad for a full meal (learn how to make fruit salad and other helpful tips).
Looking for more healthy recipes to try this year? Italian tuna salad is a perfect place to start!
How to Make Italian Tuna Salad
I used nonfat plain Greek yogurt to create a creamy, tangy dressing that’s low in calories and high in protein.
This lean dressing and the addition of the white beans make this tuna salad good for you, unlike mayo-heavy recipes. You’ll feel happy and satisfied after eating it.
Canned tuna mixes well with Italian and Mediterranean ingredients, like sun-dried tomatoes, capers, lemon, and parsley, all of which I use in this recipe. For even more dimension, try adding chopped kalamata olives or finely diced red onion.
- Canned Tuna. An often overlooked ingredient, canned tuna is wonderful in flavorful recipes like this salad. Plus, using canned tuna is easy and quick. It’s also packed with protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes. One of my favorite Italian flavors to include. Sun-dried tomatoes have an intense flavor, so they really kick things up a notch.
- Cannellini Beans. A creamy and nutritious addition to both the dressing and the salad itself. They’re rich in both fiber and protein. You also can swap a different white bean, such as great Northern.
- Celery. For a delightful crunch.
- Capers. Salty, delicious little morsels that add a wonderful tang to this salad.
- Parsley. For freshness and brightness.
- Greek Yogurt Dressing. Creamy, healthy, and incredibly simple to make. Greek yogurt, part of the beans to make it thicker, olive oil, lemon juice, and spices perfectly complement the salad ingredients and create a scrumptious dressing.
- Rehydrate the sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl of water.
- Blend part of the beans and yogurt in a food processor. Add the oil, lemon, and spices. Blend until smooth.
- Flake the tuna in a mixing bowl, then add the remaining ingredients.
- Drain the tomatoes, then add them to the bowl.
- Stir the dressing into the tuna mixture. Serve as desired and ENJOY!
- To Store. Refrigerate tuna salad in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Freeze. While you can freeze tuna salad in a pinch, it’s not ideal; the dressing may make it watery once thawed and the vegetables will lose some crunch, so you might want to drain it before serving. Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
Meal Plan Tip
Prepare the Greek yogurt dressing up to 1 day in advance, and store it in the refrigerator. Chop the celery up to 2 days in advance, and store it separately in the refrigerator.
For the ultimate leftovers, turn this salad into a tuna melt. Spread a thin layer of butter on one side of two slices of bread. On the non-buttered side of one slice, add a cheese of your choice (fontina or mozzarella would be tasty!) and some of the tuna salad. Lay the other piece of bread on top (buttered side up). Place the sandwich in a skillet on the stovetop over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes, until the bottom bread is toasted. Flip the sandwich over, and cook for a few additional minutes. Once both sides are toasted and the cheese has melted, DIG IN!
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Food Processor. For making the perfect creamy dressing.
- Mixing Bowls. These easy-to-use bowls are a must-have item.
- Citrus Juicer. The best way to juice lemons and limes.
Italian Tuna Salad
- 1/3 cup finely chopped dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes or oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes*
- 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans rinsed and drained, divided
- 1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Zest and juice of 1 small lemon about ¾ teaspoon zest and 3 tablespoons juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 12 ounces (dry weight) canned wild caught solid pack tuna in water
- 3 stalks celery finely diced
- 3 tablespoons capers rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- English muffins or whole grain bread optional for serving
- Greens such as spinach, arugula, or chopped romaine (optional for serving)
- Place the dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside to reconstitute while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- To a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add 3/4 cup of the beans and the Greek yogurt. Blend until the beans start to become broken up and combined with the yogurt, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, and onion powder. Process until smooth, scraping down the bowl once or twice as needed.
- In a large mixing bowl, flake the tuna, leaving it fairly chunky. Add the celery, capers, parsley, and remaining beans.
- Drain the sun-dried tomatoes and pat dry. Add them to the bowl with the tuna mixture.
- Pour the Greek yogurt dressing over the top. With a spatula, gently stir to combine. Switch to a fork, continuing to stir and using the fork to break apart any clumps of ingredients that are sticking together, until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Serve however you like: open face on toasted English muffins or toasted bread topped with arugula (our favorite), on whole grain bread with arugula or spinach as a sandwich, over a bed of greens, or however you like.
*If using oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, there’s no need to cover them with hot water. Simply dice them, pat away excess oil, then add them to the recipe as directed
- TO STORE: Refrigerate tuna salad in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO FREEZE: While you can freeze tuna salad in a pinch, it’s not ideal; the dressing may make it watery once thawed and the vegetables will lose some crunch, so you might want to drain it before serving. Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
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