Looking for a twist on the traditional recipe? Our Italian tuna salad is packed full of wonderful treats and the best part is there is no mayo!
The ingredients for our Italian tuna salad are easy to find at most large grocery stores. Let's talk about the key ingredients.
- Tuna: We used oil-packed albacore tuna.
- Vegetables: We used red onion and celery.
- Canned Goods: We used queen olives, caper, sun-dried tomatoes, and marinated artichoke hearts.
- Fresh Herbs: For Italian flavors, we used oregano and parsley.
- Dressing: We used extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, kosher salt and black pepper.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients for our Italian tuna salad. Drain the tuna, slice the onion, mince the garlic, chop the celery, olives, artichokes, oregano, parsley, and sun dried tomatoes. Zest the lemon, then juice it.
- To deflame the red onion, pour red wine vinegar over it and let it sit for 15 minutes, then drain.
- Add the tuna, olives, sun dried tomatoes, oregano, artichokes, celery, garlic, capers, parsley, and lemon zest to a bowl.
3. Mix together with your hands.
4. Pour in the freshly squeezed lemon juice.
5. Add the extra virgin olive oil. (Use a good quality oil from Italy or Greece.) Sprinkle on the kosher salt and the freshly ground black pepper. Mix together with your hands to coat each piece with the dressing ingredients.
6. Add the deflamed red onion and mix it in with your hands.
7. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
8. Enjoy this Italian tuna salad!
The regular version is made with chopped vegetables and mayonnaise whereas the Italian version uses olive oil, capers, lemon juice, and Italian herbs to season the dish.
The trick to keeping it from being wet is to first make sure the canned tuna is drained very well. If you are adding any vegetables that contain high amounts of water to your regular or Italian tuna salad, these are best added right before serving.
Mayo adds creaminess and flavor to the dish so you want to make sure you replace the fat in the mayo with an alternative such as sour cream, yogurt, or olive oil. Then it will need additional seasonings added to make up for any lost flavor when the mayonnaise is eliminated.
What you'll need will vary depending upon the recipe you are using, the cost, and the availability. Water-packed tuna is lower in calories and contains more omega 3's, while oil-packed tuna has more flavor and is usually packed in heart-healthy soybean oil.
White Albacore has a firmer texture, light color, mild flavor, and higher mercury levels. Skipjack contains the strongest flavor, highest fat, is light brown in color, with the lowest mercury levels. Yellowfin (or Ahi) has a pale pink color, a mild flavor, and is higher in mercury than skipjack. Tongol contains less mercury and is comparable to Skipjack.
For low-sodium, sometimes you can find it in the store, but if not rinse the fish for 3 minutes after draining it to remove a lot of the sodium. If you are pregnant, it's best to choose one with the lowest mercury or the Safe Catch brand.
Freeze: Even though it doesn't have mayonnaise in it, it does have celery which doesn't freeze well. It's best to eat it all up within 3 to 5 days of making it.
- Serve Italian tuna salad on a bed of mixed greens.
- Serve as a protein source along with Italian Easter pie.
- Scoop out the seeds and flesh from large beef steak tomatoes and stuff with this salad.
- Make lettuce wraps.
- Slice cucumbers and serve a teaspoon of this on top.
- Pita bread
- Tortilla wraps
- In a sandwich with olive tapenade, roasted red peppers, and arugula
- Want other fresh herbs? Try basil, thyme or dill.
- What else can I serve this with? Try sliced boiled egg, baked potato, or quinoa.
- Want other add-ins? Try avocado, chickpeas, or green onions.
- Use white albacore; it has a firmer texture and the mildest flavor.
- Use fresh herbs. Italian tuna tastes best with fresh herbs.
- Use freshly squeezed lemon juice; it tastes the best.
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Italian Tuna Salad
For the Salad
- 4 cups albacore, oil packed
- ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 20 green queen olives, chopped
- 3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
- ¾ cup celery, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil, chopped (27g)
- 12 ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (1 ¼ cups, 210g drained)
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
- 2 ½ tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
For the Dressing
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 60 ml
- 1 ¼ teaspoon garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed (30 ml)
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Drain the tuna and place in a large bowl.
- Thinly slice half of a red onion, place the onion rings in a dish, and pour the red wine vinegar on top. Let it soak for 15 minutes. This will help take some of the bite out of the raw red onion and will give it a slight vinegar taste. Once done, drain the onion.
- While the onion is soaking, mince the garlic and chop the olives, celery, sun dried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, oregano, parsley.
- Add the garlic, olives, capers, celery, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, lemon zest, and the fresh herbs to the bowl. Mix all the ingredients together with your hands. Pour in the lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle on the Kosher salt and black pepper. Continue mixing with your hands until all the pieces are coated in dressing. Add the deflamed onion and gently mix it in.
- Top with some extra red onion and serve. Eat immediately or keep covered in the fridge until ready to serve.
- For the best flavor, use white albacore as it has a firmer texture and the mildest flavor.
- Canned fish tastes best with fresh herbs.
- This recipe tastes better when freshly squeezed lemon juice is used.
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.
Our Italian tuna salad was originally posted on May 24, 2019.