Tuna pasta salad is quick and easy to make. It can be made ahead of time and used for work lunches or made on a weeknight for a quick dinner. It’s also customizable and allows you to use up any fresh veggies that you have in the fridge.
STEP ONE: COOK THE PASTA & CHOP THE VEGETABLES
Start by cooking the pasta. Any smaller shaped pasta would work if you don’t have fusilli. You can also use gluten-free pasta such as brown rice, chickpea, or red lentil pasta. Once the pasta is cooked be sure to run it under cold water to cool it before combining it with the vegetables.
While the pasta is cooking, wash, peel, and chop the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, bell pepper, and parsley. The most time-consuming part of making a tuna pasta salad is prepping the vegetables.
You can use a variety of vegetables in a tuna pasta salad. If you don’t have (or don’t like) any of the vegetables in the recipe, try using one of the following fresh vegetables, chopped into bite-sized pieces:
- Shredded cabbage
- Sliced radishes
- Orange, yellow, or green bell pepper
- Green onion
- Fresh basil
- Baby spinach or arugula
STEP TWO: MAKE THE DRESSING AND ASSEMBLE THE SALAD
Homemade dressings are so easy to make and taste much better than bottled ones you would pick up at the grocery store.
To make this homemade vinaigrette, whisk together (or shake in a jar) olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, dried oregano, and salt and pepper.
If you don’t have red wine vinegar, try apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, or champagne vinegar instead. Freshly squeezed lemon juice can also be used to replace some of the vinegar.
To change the flavor a bit, try using other dried herbs such as basil, thyme, or a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Once the vinaigrette is made, toss the pasta, vegetables, tuna, olives, and dressing in a large bowl and it’s ready to serve.
VARIATIONS FOR TUNA PASTA SALAD
To add some more protein or different flavors, try adding one of these to your tuna pasta salad.
- Canned salmon instead of tuna.
- A can of beans for some added protein and fiber (drained and rinsed): chickpeas, kidney beans, cannellini beans, black beans
- Crumbled feta or goat cheese or grated parmesan cheese.
- Chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- Artichoke hearts
- Roasted red peppers
HOW TO STORE TUNA PASTA SALAD
This tuna pasta salad can be served cold or at room temperature. If you make it ahead of time, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
MORE EASY SALAD RECIPES TO TRY
Healthy Tuna Pasta Salad
- 8 oz. dried whole wheat fusilli pasta Can also use any other small shaped pasta.
- 2 5 oz. cans of tuna, drained
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 cup cucumber, peeled and diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 1/3 cup parsley, chopped
- 1 2.5 oz. can of sliced black olives, drained
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Boil water in a large pot and cook that pasta for 7-9 minutes. Rinse it in a colander under cold water and then let it drain.
- While the pasta cooks, make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic powder, oregano, and salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, add the drained pasta, tuna (break it into chunks first), tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, parsley, and olives. Pour the dressing over the pasta and vegetables and toss to combine everything.