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Tuna Pasta Salad • Kath Eats


This tuna pasta salad is a delicious combination of red bell pepper, capers, and a creamy yogurt dressing, brightened with fresh herbs and lemon.

Before I discovered our Cook Once, Eat Twice meal plan, I used to eat a lot of leftovers for lunches. But then we realized that leftovers were better repurposed for dinner, meaning we only had to cook half of the nights of the week. Once the leftovers shifted back to the evening meal, I had to get more creative with my lunches! 

This was an easy problem to solve, however, I because I think that lunches are much easier to toss together than dinners are to prepare, at least in our house. 

Make-ahead salads solve the lunch conundrum 

While I’m not a huge prep day person, I do love to make one large recipe that can carry my lunches through the week. I’ve done prep day kale salads and grain salads like this citrus curry farro salad. And this season I’ve been on a kick of pasta salad recipes (see also dill pickle pasta salad and taco pasta salad!) 

Pasta salads aren’t always high on the protein chart, which is why I added some tuna. Canned salmon would work perfectly here too! Think tuna noodle casserole meets creamy tuna salad! Plus herbs, red peppers, capers, and lots of lemon. 

Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe

This tuna pasta salad recipe is SO easy to toss together and can be made mostly from ingredients in the fridge and pantry. I used elbow macaroni as a nod to casseroles, and two cans of flaked albacore tuna. The tuna packs in the protein! I always look for sustainably caught tuna – the MSC seal is a good indicator. Wild Planet brand and Whole Foods brand are both sustainably caught. 

 

The hardest part of this recipe is boiling water.

And since a watched pot never boils, you can prep your veggies while you heat the water. Drain the pasta, make the dressing, and toss it all together. Easy peasy. 

Ingredients

Lemon zest is key to the dish’s bright flavor, and I also used a handful of herbs from our herb garden: parsley, dill, and basil. Use whatever mix of herbs you have, or just pick your favorite and go all in. I used a red bell pepper because we always have one on hand, but frozen peas or corn – or fresh summer corn cut off the cob – would be great. Chopped celery or even red onion (!) would add crunch. You can also add in some shredded or diced sharp cheddar cheese or crumbled feta. Olives would be a nice Mediterranean addition to go with the capers, too! 

  • Elbow macaroni – or you can use any pasta shape you like
  • Albacore tuna – or swap in salmon or chunk light tuna if you prefer
  • Red bell pepper – or the equivalent volume of veggies of your choice
  • Herbs – any mix you like. I used parsley, basil, and dill. Baby spinach works too! 
  • Capers – love them! Leave them out if you don’t, or swap in chopped olives. 

For the dressing

  • Full-fat Greek yogurt – my go-to in pasta salads to keep the saturated fat at bay and protein high with lots of creamy texture
  • Duke’s mayonnaise – according to my husband, no other mayonnaise is real
  • Lemon – zested and juiced
  • Salt and pepper – naturally

How To Make This Tuna Pasta Salad

Cook the pasta

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling. Cook the pasta until al dente according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Return pasta to pot or a large mixing bowl.

Prep the ingredients

Meanwhile, chop the bell pepper and herbs. Drain the capers. Zest and juice lemon. I love lemon zest and use it whenever I use a lemon! I then flip over my microplane and use it to catch the lemon seeds while squeezing out the juice. My lemon yielded about 1.5 tbsp zest and 3 tbsp juice.

Prep the tuna

Drain tuna and flake with a fork.

Make the dressing

Combine yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk to blend.

Mix pasta salad together

Add chopped pepper, herbs, and capers to the cooked pasta. Then add the tuna. Stir to mix.

Stir in the dressing

Add 3/4 of the dressing to the pasta and stir until combined. Add rest of dressing, if desired.

Serve

Serve as a side dish at a picnic or as a main course for lunch or a lighter dinner. 

Store

Store in the fridge in an airtight container for a few days. You may want to freshen it up with a squeeze of lemon juice or extra yogurt dressing since the pasta will gradually absorb the dressing. 


Tuna Pasta Salad

This tuna pasta salad is brightened with fresh herbs and lemon and mixed with red bell pepper, capers, and a creamy yogurt dressing.

Keyword capers, greek yogurt, lemon, pasta, red pepper, tuna

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 2 cans albacore tuna
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped herbs like parsley, basil, and dill
  • 2 ounce jar of capers

For the dressing

  • 1 cup full fat greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp Duke’s mayonnaise
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced (1.5 tbsp zest and 3 tbsp juice)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling.

  • Cook pasta according to the package instructions, until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Return pasta to pot or a large mixing bowl.

  • Meanwhile, chop pepper and herbs. Zest and juice lemon. Drain capers.

  • Drain tuna and flake with a fork.

  • Make the dressing: combine yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk to blend.

  • Add pepper, herbs, and capers to the cooked pasta, followed by tuna. Stir to mix.

  • Add 3/4 of the dressing to the pasta and stir until combined. Add rest of dressing, if desired.

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