Tuna Pasta Salad
After a months long process, the Elegant Baker and I have finally moved and resettled into our new home. We’ve moved from the cold wintery north of Massachusetts to the humid summery south of coastal South Carolina.
I tell you this because it is important to today’s blog post. You see — we managed to schedule our move to happen in mid July. July, along with August, are the hottest and most humid months in our new home. So ya — its been hot and humid since we got here.
What that means is that I don’t want to be spending a lot of time cooking. And I don’t want to be heating the kitchen up with an oven set to “roast”. We don’t want anything too hot to eat at the end of a hot day either. Rather, a cool, quick, easy and healthy Tuna Pasta Salad is just the right thing for us in the middle of the hot, humid summer.
This recipe doesn’t come from any ancient Roman cookbook or long held family secret. And while I am pretty sure it is not entirely unique, I more or less made it up on the spot one morning last week while planning another day of unpacking.
The day was going to be a hot one. The thought of running the stove to cook later in the heat of the day wasn’t appealing, even at an early hour. Our new gas grill hadn’t arrived yet, so outdoor cooking wasn’t really an option.
Make In The Cool Morning
I decided I should put something together in the cool of the morning that could sit all day. But it had to still make a satisfying dinner – I have my standards. So I thought pasta salad, but with a protein. The beef or chicken I had on hand would need to be cooked, so I decided tuna. Just open can and add, easy and no heating the kitchen. And there it was — tuna pasta salad.
Although the goal was to not heat the kitchen, the one thing I couldn’t avoid was boiling the water for the pasta. So I settled on orzo, which cooks pretty quickly and cools easily. I also thought its shape would make a nice accompaniment with some diced vegetables.
For the vegetables, I had a my usual pantry assortment of tomatoes, cucumber and onion. A quick dice of those and I was on the way. I added some kalamata olives, chickpeas, and pan roasted artichokes. A can of tuna (packed in oil) and I was pretty much set. As I’ve said before, my pantry is never without olives or chickpeas, so yes, they are even in our new kitchen. The canned chickpeas traveled with us from our previous home (they pack well). The olives were among the first things we bought on our first shop to fill our new kitchen (along with lemons and capers)
Simple Homemade Dressing
As for a dressing — a quick red wine vinaigrette would do the trick. Using a small mason jar, I added about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and some red wine vinegar. A little hone for sweetnesss. A little dijon mustard to help it all come together. A few dried herbs and salt and pepper and there it was. Put the lid on the mason jar and shake. Yes – I know its not fully ‘emulsified’, but for a quick dressing it will do. If you pour it just after shaking, it won’t have separated back yet, so it will work fine.
I got no pictures the first time I made it. I wasn’t even thinking ‘blog post’ at that time. But we enjoyed the first batch so much, I thought of course it should be on the blog. Easy — quick — fresh — healthy and delicious — this Mediterranean inspired Tuna Pasta Salad is just the right sort of dish! So I made it again a few days later. In fact all the pictures for this post came from the second batch that I made.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have any artichokes left for the second batch, so there are none in the pictures. I will correct that eventually, but for now they aren’t there. However, the recipe below does contain them, although they are optional.
On the other hand, that is one of the nice things about this tuna pasta salad. You can mix and match and alter to your tastes and what you have on hand. Don’t have red onion, but have some scallions? No problem. Want to add some roasted red peppers or grilled green beans? Go for it. Don’t like the olives? Skip them. Some fresh basil from the garden sounds good? Add it, why not. No need to follow my recipe exactly. It all “just about that much” preparation anyway.
One final thought. This salad actually benefits from being made ahead. The flavors all marry real nicely when given a chance to sit in the refrigerator for a least a couple of hours. All day is fine too. So make this in the cool of the morning (or the cool of the night before) and still enjoy a delicious dinner in the heat of the summer day!
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Mediterranean Inspired Tuna Pasta Salad
Tuna Pasta Salad
- 3/4 cup Orzo
- 1/2 cup Tomato Large Dice Chunks or Halved Grape Tomatos
- 1/2 cup European Style Cucumbers seeded and quartered
- 1/2 cup Kalamata Olives halved
- 1/2 cup Red Onion small dice
- 1/2 cup Chickpeas, canned rinsed
- 1/2 cup Artichoke quarters, pan roasted
- 2 3 1/2 oz can Tuna packed in olive oil
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 TBL Red Wine Vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Tuna Pasta Salad
- Fill a pot with a quart of water and bring it to a boil
- Add 2 TBS kosher salt just as the water begins to boil
- Add the orzo and cook until al dente
- When the orzo is done, drain in a colander with small holes, and run under cold water for 3 -5 minutes, until orzo is about room temperature
- While orzo is cooking and cooling, finish cutting and preparing remaining ingredients
- Drain the tuna, but it is not necessary to remove 100% of the oil. It will blend with the dressing in the finished salad
- When the orzo is cooled, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine.
- Add the dressing (below) and toss further.
- In a small jar with a lid, combine all ingredients
- Give a vigorous shake just before using
- Immediately pour over pasta salad