Tuna pasta salad (aka Tuna Macaroni Salad) is a classic dish that’s easy to make, delicious, and perfect for meal prep. Made with pasta, canned tuna, celery, carrots, green onion and dill, it’s a healthy and satisfying option for lunch or dinner. Learn how to make the best cold tuna pasta salad with my step-by-step recipe.
What is the history of Tuna Macaroni Salad?
The history of tuna pasta salad is not well documented, but it likely originated in the United States as a way to use canned tuna, a pantry staple, in a simple and flavorful dish. Tuna pasta salad became popular in the mid-20th century as a quick and convenient option for picnics, potlucks, and home-cooked meals. Over time, the dish evolved to include various ingredients, such as pasta, mayonnaise, cheese, and vegetables, and it remains a popular dish today.
The dish can be traced back to the early days of canned seafood, which became widely available in the late 19th century. Tuna pasta salad is a variation of classic pasta salad, which has been enjoyed for centuries in Italy and other Mediterranean countries.
The dish has likely been influenced by a variety of cuisines, including Italian, American, and Mediterranean, and it continues to evolve as new ingredients and flavor combinations are added. Despite its humble origins, tuna pasta salad remains a beloved dish that’s enjoyed by millions of people around the world.
Why I love Tuna Pasta Salad
Tuna macaroni salad is great for several reasons:
- Flavor: Tuna pasta salad is a flavorful dish that combines the savory taste of canned tuna with creamy mayonnaise, tangy vinegar or lemon juice, and other seasonings. The addition of fresh herbs, cheese, and vegetables adds to the flavor and makes it a satisfying meal.
- Convenience: Tuna pasta salad is quick and easy to make and can be made ahead of time, making it a convenient option for lunch or dinner. It can also be stored in the refrigerator for several days, making it a great option for meal prep.
- Versatility: Tuna pasta salad is a versatile dish that can be customized to suit individual tastes. It can be made with different types of pasta, vegetables, and seasonings, and it can be served as a main dish, a side dish, or a snack.
- Affordability: Tuna pasta salad is an affordable dish that can be made with ingredients that are readily available at most grocery stores. Canned tuna is a pantry staple that’s budget-friendly, and other ingredients, such as pasta and mayonnaise, are also inexpensive.
- Nutritional Value: Tuna pasta salad can be a nutritious meal option if made with whole grain pasta, reduced-fat mayonnaise, and plenty of fresh vegetables. Canned tuna is a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other essential nutrients.
These factors make tuna pasta salad a popular and well-loved dish that continues to be enjoyed by millions of people around the world.Regenerate response
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What ingredients are needed for Tuna Pasta Salad?
The ingredients needed to make tuna pasta salad are:
- Pasta: Any type of pasta, such as macaroni, rotini, or fusilli, can be used for this dish. I used scoobi doo pasta – aka cellentani, spirali, tortiglione, or serpentini.
- Canned Tuna: You’ll need canned tuna, drained, for this recipe.
- Mayonnaise: Mayonnaise is used to add creaminess and flavor to the salad.
- Seasonings: Salt, pepper, and other seasonings, such as dill, is used to add flavor to the salad.
- Vegetables: Fresh vegetables, such as grated carrots, celery, green onion and peas, are added to the salad to add color, crunch, and nutrition.
These are the basic ingredients needed to make tuna pasta salad. You can also add other ingredients, such as olives, capers, cheese or pickles, to suit your tastes.
For the full list of ingredients, and the printable recipe, be sure to check out the recipe card below.
How to make Tuna Macaroni Salad
This recipe makes about 6 servings of tuna macaroni salad and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also add other ingredients, such as pickles, olives, or cheese, to suit your tastes.
Step 1: Place a large stockpot of salted water over medium-high heat. Bring the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook for 10 minutes.
Step 2: Stir in the frozen peas into the stockpot. Return the pasta and peas to a boil and cook for 1 minute.
Step 3: Drain the pasta and peas, rinsing under cold water. Drain well and place in a large bowl.
Step 4: To the bowl, add the tuna, celery, green onion, dill, and carrots. Toss to combine.
Step 5: In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and black pepper.
Step 6: Add the dressing to the salad and toss until everything is coated.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
TIPS AND FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Read on for tips and substitution ideas on how to make this recipe, such as…
To make a healthy tuna pasta salad, you can follow these tips:
- Use whole grain pasta: Opt for whole grain pasta instead of white pasta, which is higher in fiber and nutrients.
- Use light mayonnaise: Instead of regular mayonnaise, use a light or reduced-fat version to lower the calorie and fat content of the salad.
- Add plenty of vegetables: Load up on fresh or canned vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, red onion, carrots, and lettuce, to add fiber, vitamins, and minerals to the salad.
- Reduce the amount of cheese: If you use cheese in your pasta salad, use it sparingly to reduce the calorie and fat content.
- Choose water-packed tuna and rinse it well to reduce the sodium content.
- Use a vinaigrette dressing: Instead of a creamy dressing, opt for a vinaigrette made with vinegar, oil, and seasonings to keep the salad light and healthy.
- Control portion sizes: Pay attention to portion sizes and be mindful of how much pasta and other ingredients you’re using.
By making these simple changes, you can enjoy a healthy and delicious tuna pasta salad.
Can I use canned tuna?
Yes, you can use canned tuna for tuna pasta salad. Canned tuna is a convenient and affordable option that’s easy to keep on hand. You can use either water-packed or oil-packed tuna, depending on your preference. Just be sure to drain the tuna well to remove excess liquid before adding it to the pasta salad. If you’re looking for a healthier option, choose water-packed tuna and rinse it well to reduce the sodium content.
Is tuna pasta salad good for meal prep?
Yes, tuna pasta salad can be a good option for meal prep. It’s easy to make, can be stored in the refrigerator for several days, and can be a quick and convenient option for lunch or dinner. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container to keep it fresh. To make it more appealing for meal prep, you can also add fresh vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, or carrots, and a flavorful dressing. By prepping a batch of tuna pasta salad at the beginning of the week, you’ll have a healthy and satisfying meal ready to go whenever you need it.
Can I make tuna pasta salad ahead of time?
Yes, you can make tuna pasta salad ahead of time. In fact, it’s often recommended to make it ahead of time so that the flavors have time to meld and develop. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
How long does tuna pasta salad last?
Tuna pasta salad will last for about 3-5 days in the refrigerator, but it’s best to consume it within the first two days for the best taste and texture. If you notice any signs of spoilage, such as a strong odor, discoloration, or off flavor, it’s best to discard the salad.
🍂 Celebrate Autumn with this easy salad!
This delicious green salad with apple and goat cheese is filled with flavor from apples, raisins, goat cheese, and toasted walnuts. It’s easy to make in under 30 minutes for an easy weeknight side dish your whole family will love.
Other classic salad recipes to try
- Classic Waldorf Salad – full of fresh, crispy, apples, celery, grapes and walnuts with a creamy mayonnaise dressing served over a bed of lettuce.
- Classic Cobb Salad – the perfect hearty salad for dinner because it’s loaded with so much more than just lettuce – it’s got blue cheese, bacon, avocado, eggs, chicken, and onion.
- Classic Panzanella Salad (Tuscan Bread Salad) – a refreshing summer salad made with juicy tomatoes, crusty bread, and a simple vinaigrette.
- 12 ounces uncooked cellentani (scoobi doo) pasta
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 (12 ounce) can tuna, drained and flaked
- 1 cup diced celery
- ½ cup sliced green onions
- ¼ cup freshly chopped dill
- ¼ cup grated carrot
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Place a large stockpot of salted water over medium-high heat. Bring the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the frozen peas. Return the pasta and frozen peas to a boil and cook for 1 minute.
- Drain the pasta and peas, rinsing under cold water. Drain well and place in a large bowl.
- To the bowl, add the tuna, celery, green onion, dill, and carrots. Toss to combine.
- In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and black pepper.
- Add the dressing to the salad and toss until everything is coated.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 298Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 442mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 6g
The provided nutrition information is an estimate and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information.
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