This tuna salad has gone from my weekday comfort salad to a quick light dinner meal. It's tangy, aromatic, and delicious featuring ingredients you likely have on hand making for easy meal prep.
This recipe is a twist on a tuna salad sandwich my uncle used to make. He would drink Schlitz Malt Liquor Beer and eat his sandwich with Earth Wind and Fire blasting. "Beijo" play and that groove would put me down for the count.
Tuna Salad Ingredients
This recipe is basically a pantry grab, utilizing ingredients you're likely to always have on hand. The core ingredients are canned items.
- Canned Tuna
- Kalamata or green olives
- Canned beans (chickpeas, black-eyed peas, etc.)
- Red onion
- Olive Oil
- Lemon Juice
- Kosher Salt
- Black pepper
Assembling Tuna Salad (step by step)
There are no real steps; it's just assemble then and eat.
Step 1: Mix cilantro, beans, tuna, olives, and onions in a bowl.
Step 2: Whisk oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper separately and then add to tuna mixture. Mix gently until all ingredients are coated well in the dressing.
Step 3: Arrange tomato slices on 4 plates and top with tuna mixture.
The salad is served on top of tomato slices which play the carrier role that bread normally plays and gives the recipe its keto status.
Tuna Salad Cooking Tips
- Use red or pickled onions. They add crunch and flavor. Raw white onions have a strong taste that prevents all the ingredients coming together with balance.
- Break the tuna up with your hands and go for chunkier consistency. This will plate better and (assuming you're using a decent quality tuna) allow you to enjoy the tuna flavor.
- Make salad ahead of time
Meal Planning Tips
- Don't fuss if you don't have all the ingredients on hand. Be as flexible as needed with respect to canned protein, herbs, and bean choice.
- Make without tomatoes and use as stuffing for avocados
- Choose oil vs. water-based canned tuna based on preference. Oil ensures a more moist tuna, whereas water though drier, keeps the calorie count down and provides a cleaner tuna taste.
Flavor Profile of Tuna Salad
This simple salad is a quick go-to for lunch or light dinner. It can be made casual or dressed up for guests or fancy weeknight gourmet on a budget. Fresh, juicy thick tomatoes make for an excellent carrier to the tuna salad. The salty and briny kalamata olives, paired with vinaigrette help lighten the dish. The beans, mild in taste add heft to the dish which helps bring out the herbal aroma of the cilantro. When it comes to beans and herbs, I use whatever I have on hand. Chickpeas, black-eyed peas, white beans, parsley, basil all work. Herbs are essential in providing a fresh element given the use of canned meat and beans.
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- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons green or kalamata olives halved
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves plus more for garnish
- 15 oz canned chickpeas 15 oz. beans, drained and rinsed
- 10 oz canned tuna 5 oz. each tuna*, preferably packed in natural juices, drained and broken into chunks
- 1 medium red onion thinly sliced
- 8 thick slices large tomatoes heirlooms work great
- In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add cilantro, beans, tuna, olives, and onions and stir gently just until coated.
- Arrange tomato slices on 4 plates and spoon tuna mixture on top, dividing evenly. Garnish each with more cilantro
- Substitute any canned legumes (chickpeas, navy, blackeyed peas)
- Make the salad a day ahead
Monday 24th of August 2020
If you're a child of the south or southwest like me, "tuna salad" means lots of mayo and tuna, with celery, onion and relish for distraction. As a result, I was never enthused about "tuna salad" when it was inevitably served as dinner during lent each year... this version though! With it's mediterranean flavors and ingredients, the better balance of tuna, seasoning and additional ingredients, and substitution of olive oil as the fat source.. is an outright game changer!!!
I was rocking it as a dinner entree so I did something I usually don't do with FF recipes- I made alterations... added basil since I was light on cilantro, and folded in artichoke hearts and subbed sliced cherry tomatoes for the tomato wedges. Plus I added a little sugar and vinegar to the dressing to give it a little more of a vinaigrette taste.. all fell in line quite nicely!!!
Monday 24th of August 2020
I'm diggin the alterations especially the artichoke add!
Tuesday 19th of May 2020
I just made this recipe for lunch. It's amazing! I’ll be adding it to my regular rotation. The quantity of the tuna salad is perfect because it allows you to eat it over a couple of days. I'm sure it will taste even better tomorrow.