Pasta Salad with Tuna is vibrant, delightful and delicious. It’s the perfect Spring or Summer side dish or appetizer and great for potlucks, picnics or gatherings!
This easy and fun to make Pasta Salad with Tuna is the perfect lunch, appetizer or side dish for any picnic or gathering on those hot Summer days. Parmesan cheese, arugula, capers and a zingy herb dressing fill it with flavours that just scream Summer. It’s vibrant, incredibly satisfying and comes together in just 15 minutes. And, in my humble opinion, is the absolute best way to use up a can of tuna. Once you make this Tuna Pasta Salad, it’ll surely earn it’s spot on all your Summer cookout menus, year after year!
Shame on me. *Puts wrist out for you to slap it* How is it already (the second week of) September aka the end of Summer (tears) and this Pasta Salad with Tuna is the first pasta salad recipe I’ve ever uploaded to the blog?! I mean, if it weren’t for these delicious BBQ recipes – grilled chicken, souvlaki pork skewers and cabbage steaks – I’d wonder what the actual F I was doing all Summer long. What’s Summer without a single pasta salad recipe???
Alright, well. At least I can say that the first one is a banger, my friends. It’s fresh and flavourful, has an easy homemade vinaigrette that goes perfectly along with it and you can use whatever kind of pasta you already have on hand. And it’s just perfect for those work or school lunches, especially when you have no access to a microwave as this baby is best served cold.
PASTA SALAD WITH TUNA RECIPE INGREDIENTS
Fresh and flavourful ingredients make up this deliciously tangy Pasta Salad with Tuna. Let’s get into them in a little bit more detail down below:
- Pasta: The only ingredient that gets cooked in this recipe! I love using short pastas such as fusilli (pictured), penne, rotini or bowties. Macaroni, ziti or even rigatoni would also work just as well. I wouldn’t recommend using long pastas such as spaghetti or fettuccine. But, I mean, if that’s all you have on hand, then you do you. Let me know how it turns out in the comments below! I used white pasta but whole wheat will work as well. Dried is best in this recipe.
- Tuna: I like using a good quality, wild albacore version of canned tuna. You can use the one packed in either oil or water. PRO TIP: If using the version packed in oil (and it’s a good quality oil such as olive or avocado), you can add the entire can, oil and all, into the salad. But, you may have to reduce the olive oil in the dressing by a tbsp or two if you do decide to do that.
- Shallot: For crunch and flavour. Be sure to thinly slice or dice them so they don’t overpower the rest of the salad.
- Arugula: I just love adding this green leafy vegetable to just about anything! It packs a peppery, fresh punch that is not easy to replicate! PRO TIP: Since the arugula will ultimately lose its freshness and crunch the longer it sits in the dressing, add an extra handful to any leftover tuna pasta salad just before you eat it.
- Capers: Adds a delicious briny saltiness and a savory lemon flavour. Like little bursts of umami in your mouth! We use both the capers and their brine for maximum flavour.
- Parsley: Adds freshness and a herby flavour to this tuna pasta salad recipe. Fresh works best in this recipe.
- Lemon: For tartness, acidity and a bit of zing. We use both the juice and zest of the lemon for maximum flavour.
- Parmesan Cheese: Adds flavour and sharpness to the dish and pairs really well with the rest of the ingredients.
- Olive Oil: Adds flavour and is one of the main components of the dressing. As always, good quality, extra virgin works best.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: For acidity, flavour and zing. It’s the other main component to the dressing for this pasta salad with tuna. Although I like Apple Cider Vinegar for it’s health benefits (i.e. improves heart health, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, to name a few) white or red vinegar may be used instead if that’s all ya got on hand.
- Honey: Added to the dressing for sweetness and to help balance out the acidity in the lemon and vinegar.
- Dijon Mustard: Adds a tangy, sharp flavour to the dressing. Helps balance out the flavours of the rest of the ingredients.
- Oregano: Adds a herby, mediterranean feel to the pasta salad. I used dried oregano but if all you have on hand is fresh, that’ll work just as well. Use 1/2 tbsp of fresh instead of the 1/2 tsp dried.
HOW TO MAKE TUNA PASTA SALAD (KEY TIPS)
- Use bite size, easy to eat pasta. I like getting a little bit of everything in every bite for the best tuna pasta salad eating experience! Using short pasta, such as penne or fusilli, will help make this possible. And besides, it’s way easier and less messy to eat! The added bonus? The little nooks, crannies, pockets and folds in the small pasta’s shape provide the perfect cavity for collecting dressing, herbs and other small ingredients you definitely would never be able to achieve if using a pasta such as spaghetti!
- Don’t overcook (or undercook) the pasta! Since the pasta is the main ingredient, you need it to be jussst right! Follow the package directions and keep an eye on it/taste one for doneness in the last few minutes of cooking. EXTRA TIP: Toss the pasta in about half the dressing while it’s still warm. This will not only help prevent it from sticking or clumping together but it will maximize the overall taste as the warm pasta will absorb the flavours of the dressing.
- Cook the pasta in boiling SALTED water for maximum flavour. Don’t be shy when it comes to this! We need that pasta to retain the salt and flavour after it’s done cooking, even though, yes, we add more, to taste, at the end.
- Season the tuna with salt, pepper and a splash of olive oil before mixing it in with the rest of the ingredients. Although you’ll season the pasta salad with salt, pepper and the flavourful dressing, you’ll maximize on flavour by preseasoning the flaked tuna as well.
- Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jar before adding it to the salad. This ensures everything gets mixed up and evenly dispersed amongst the salad as it should.
- Toss well! You really want to make sure the dressing coats both the tuna and the pasta/remaining ingredients so toss, toss, toss. And then, toss some more. EXTRA TIP: Ensure the pasta is mostly cool before tossing it with the arugula as it will wilt.
- For best results, serve this pasta salad with tuna cold!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Since dried pasta can be served at both room temperature and chilled, it’s best to use it in this recipe as opposed to fresh. Dried pasta will also hold up well when tossed with the dressing and other ingredients. Besides, it’s a little more convenient and time saving!
I wouldn’t recommend making this pasta salad with tuna recipe more than a few hours in advance as the ingredients will wilt and become mushy. If you can’t help but prep it beforehand, leave the arugula out and add it just before serving.
If stored in an airtight container, this tuna pasta salad will be good for up to 3 days in the fridge. As it sits, the pasta will absorb the dressing. If it’s too dry when you’re ready to eat it again, simply toss it in some more dressing or a little bit of olive oil.
For the Pasta Salad
- 1 lb bite size Pasta such as Fusilli or Penne
- 1 can Wild Caught Albacore Tuna
- 1 Shallot, diced
- 2 tbsp Parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp Capers, with brine
- Large Handful of Arugula
- Parmesan Cheese, shaved or grated, for topping
For the Dressing
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 Lemon, juiced
- 1/2 tsp Lemon Zest
- 2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 1 tsp Honey
- 1/2 tsp Oregano
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Add all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jar and whisk or shake to combine.
- Cook the pasta in boiling (well) salted water according to the package directions. Drain in a colander and try and shake most of the water off before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients. Toss the pasta with about half the dressing while it's still warm to absorb the flavours of the dressing and to help prevent sticking or clumping together.
- Add the canned tuna to a small bowl and flake it nice with a fork, if not already. Season with a little bit of salt, pepper and olive oil and set aside until ready to use.
- Add all of the salad ingredients to a bowl and top with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.
- Add the dressing and toss well to combine.
- For best results and maximum flavour, refrigerate the salad for 1 hour before serving to allow the flavours to develop and marry.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 576Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 777mgCarbohydrates: 62gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 28g
Nutrition is only an estimate and calculated using Nutritionix.
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