Tuna salad has never looked tastier, thanks to these healthy and flavor-packed recipes. From tuna sandwiches to creamy pasta dishes to nutrient-packed whole grain bowls, here’s how to make the most of the classic lunchtime staple.
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1 of 16Caitlin Bensel
Roasted Vegetable, Kale, and Tuna Salad
Whether you're going for something simple, something healthy, or both, don't overlook tuna—that classic staple of melts and salads is actually a super healthy source of nutrients. And, yes, even the canned kind (if you buy the right kind) can be good for you. Health experts recommend two or three servings of a variety of seafood a week, but many “clean” eaters eat even more than that. Oily fish like tuna have the extra benefit of supplying good fats like the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA. These healthy fats reduce your risk of heart disease, enhance your immune system, and lower blood pressure.
Here, a simple lemony caper dressing coats the delicate baby kale, sweet roasted beets, and roasted haricots verts. The tuna complements the flavors well. If you like, you can use a combination of spinach and kale leaves.
Spruce up lunch with this Tuna Niçoise Whole-Grain Bowl. We combined the classic Niçoise combo of haricots verts, potatoes, hard-cooked eggs, tuna, and olives with whole-grain rye berries, which have a nutty, faintly peppery-tangy flavor. If you can’t find them, use farro or wheat berries.
Your supermarket olive bar holds an embarrassment of riches, from tapenades to marinated and pickled salads (called giardiniera). If you can’t find a mixed vegetable salad there, you can make your own by bringing vinegar, salt, sugar, and whole spices to a boil, pouring over vegetables, and letting the mixture stand for 30 minutes. Jarred giardiniera can be high in sodium; pay close attention to labels if using. You can buy already hard-cooked eggs, or make your own by steaming for 16 minutes, plunging into ice water, peeling, and slicing.
No mayo, no problem. This healthy tuna salad uses probiotic-rich Greek yogurt as its creamy, tangy base. Crunchy celery, earthy chives, and delicate microgreens keep this easy lunch recipe fuss-free, so you can customize it with your own healthy ingredients. Give it a Mediterranean spin with chickpeas, cucumber, and Kalamata olives—or add a little sweetness with sliced grapes. Spread this tuna salad over a slice of whole-wheat bread, stuff it into an avocado, or spoon it into crisp lettuce cups for a low-carb version.
This tuna melt is a delicious departure from the heavy-handed classic. It highlights heart-healthy fats, with omega-3 fatty acids in the tuna and monounsaturated fat in the olives and olive oil. Castelvetrano olives have a mild flavor and buttery texture that works well in this salsa, but if you have trouble finding them, any mild green olive will do. When purchasing canned tuna, look for the words “pole-and-line caught” on the label for the more sustainably-caught fish. We like Wild Planet brand.
This sandwich is all about healthy fats, with omega-3 fatty acids in the tuna and monounsaturated fat in the avocado. The first boosts brain function; the second is great for heart health. Tuna and avocado also happen to taste delicious together, along with pickled onion, roasted almonds, and briny, pea-green Castelvetrano olives. You’ll want a sturdy loaf of sourdough to support the filling; be sure to buy from the bakery section of the supermarket.
Quality ingredients make all the difference here. Use premium canned or jarred white tuna, the best fruity olive oil you have, and garden-fresh veggies. We chop up the olives and capers and mix them into the tuna for a briny flavor hit that won’t slip out of your sandwich as you eat. Niçoise are small French black olives; kalamata olives will work just fine in their place.
A favorite in southern France, pan bagnat (pan ban-YAH) means "bathed bread." The bread in this sandwich is meant to absorb some liquid from the filling, which means it's the perfect lunch food, as you're supposed to assemble it entirely ahead of time. Pair with potato salad, pasta salad, or baked chips.
Instead of cleaning out the fridge to put lunch together, toss pasta with quality tuna; its richness and flavor will carry the salad, which is embellished with simple flavorings. Pack a piece of torn baguette to round out the meal.
This recipe begins with uncooked grain, which needs an hour in the pot and a little time to cool. If you need to save time, hunt down some precooked whole-grain farro on your local grocery store's rice aisle.