Not Your Average Tuna Salad

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!

Not Your Average Tuna Salad Recipe.png

You’ll need:

  • 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

Pasta salad ingredients.jpg

The method:

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).

chopped brocolli.jpg

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!

Spoonful of pasta salad

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One-pot tuna pasta recipe

I’m all about the quick, 20-minute meal to feed the hungry crowd, and this version of classic tuna pasta is dead easy. I really like the sweetness added by frying off a few onions in butter before adding the tuna. Usually, tinned tuna is simply stirred into the dish, but I fry it a bit with the onions as I break up the meat, and it just adds a depth of flavour without being labour intensive.

You can use gluten-free pasta if you prefer – any shape will do – but I like standard macaroni for this dish. I know it’s tempting to use a tin of condensed cream of mushroom or chicken soup, but I promise this is just as easy and less gloppy. I only want one pot to clean, so I boil the pasta and peas together, make the sauce while they drain, and then toss it all together again. Easy peasy.

tuna-pasta-in-the-bowl

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups dry pasta
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 4-6 cups water

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup chopped white onion (I use frozen)
  • 2 TB butter
  • 1 tin of tuna
  • 1 tsp dried garlic
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup single cream or half and half
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of choice (I use mild cheddar for the kids)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional splash of milk to loosen the sauce as preferred

The Method:

Bring a pot of water to the boil and add your pasta. Adjust the quantities for a larger pot, but this should easily feed a family of four to five people.

After half the cooking time for your pasta, add the frozen peas and bring back to the boil.

Once the pasta is tender, drain the pasta and peas and allow to rest while you use the pot.

pasta-and-peas

Add butter and onions over a med-high heat and allow the onions to go translucent.

Add the tinned tuna and break it up, coating it with the butter and onions, and allow the mixture to fry slightly.

Add the dried garlic and oregano, and mix well before pouring in the cream. Stir well, continuing to break up the tuna and allowing the cream to warm.

Add the cheese a bit at a time, stirring well into the creamy tuna in about three batches. Feel free to add more cheese than stated if you love it!

tuna-pasta-sauce-with-cheese

Allow the sauce to begin to bubble slightly before returning the pasta and peas. Mix well and give it a taste to add salt and pepper as you see fit.

This couldn’t be faster for a midweek meal; most ingredients are staples! Hope you enjoy this no-fuss version of a classic tuna pasta. If you just can’t live without the cheesy-baked top, go ahead and throw it into a baking dish and cover with shredded cheese. I didn’t have the time to oven bake, and this was on the table in 20 minutes! It left me time to play some Uno with the kids.

Sparkly Mummy