In the early days of summer, I haven’t got a lot of salad materials on hand, but the warm days call for cool dinners. This is a recipe I can whip up with cupboard and fridge staples, but adds a fresh, crunchy salad feel to a tuna pasta dish. I start out with veggie spiral pasta, tinned tuna and mayo, but this recipe might surprise with a sweet note of balsamic vinegar and the crunch of raw broccoli.
This is a super-fast midweek gem that satisfies a busy summer afternoon’s time constraints. With twenty minutes to boil the water and cook the pasta, you can prepare the tuna and broccoli in the meantime and throw it all into the fridge before football practice or a trip to the park. My kids surprised me by barely noticing the raw florets when they were first served this dish, and I think it adds lovely texture along with the numerous health benefits of eating raw. If you prefer to avoid mayo, feel free to use your favourite Italian dressing or even yogurt-based Caesar dressing for a tailored taste. Make it your own!
- 8oz/220g tinned tuna, drained
- 12oz/340g veggie spiral pasta (or your favourite pasta for cold salad)
- 3 tablespoons light mayonnaise (or more to your taste – I don’t like too much mayo)
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder (I use a garlic and herb mix with parsley)
- ½ cup fresh broccoli florets (gently cut the fine top layer of a head of broccoli, keep the rest for soup)
- 1 cup grated cheddar (finely grated more evenly distributes)
- 1 tablespoon chopped gherkins or American style pickle relish (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Start a medium-sized pot for boiling water. No need for a giant pot – the pasta cooks as long as it’s covered. Add the dry pasta once you have a rolling boil and reduce the heat.
Drain your tuna well and scoop it into a large bowl that will accommodate the pasta as well.
Add the balsamic vinegar to the tuna and break it up very well before incorporating the mayonnaise.
Add the garlic powder, salt and pepper and mix well.
Slice the top layer of the broccoli to get just the tiniest bits for your salad and save the stalks for another recipe (soup is a favourite).
Drain your pasta once it’s al dente and rinse it with cold water to cool it quickly. Toss the pasta a fair bit to drain as much of the water from the spirals as possible.
Add the pasta to the tuna mixture and mix it well before adding the broccoli and shredded cheese. You can stir in your gherkins/relish at the end if you are adding that.
Give the salad a good toss to distribute the broccoli and cheese, but don’t overdo it or it might start to break down the pasta. Add more salt or pepper to taste before covering the bowl and putting it in the fridge until serving. It can be eaten straight away, but tastes refreshing for a hot summer dinner after about 30 minutes. Spice it up with some chili flake, or add more crunch with some bacon crumbles to make this an amazing party salad, too! Hope you like it … simple but surprising!