Saturday, January 07, 2012

Recipe for Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps with Capers and Tomatoes

I think these Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps are the perfect Phase One lunch!

Before we get too far into our Month of Daily Phase One recipes I thought it was time to share a recipe for lunch.  Occasionally people write to me and request ideas for brown bag lunches, and I have to confess I have really not been that helpful.  Lunch hasn't been an issue for me; when I worked, I always had access to a teacher's lounge with fridge and microwave, and whatever food was leftover from something I cooked for the blog was lunch.  But if I've neglected lunch as a category in the past, hopefully I can redeem myself a little with these crunchy and delicious Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps with Capers and Tomatoes.  I happily ate these for lunch three days in a row, and the fourth day when I had no more lettuce pieces big enough to wrap around the last bit of the tuna, I ate it over some chopped lettuce as a salad.  If you like tuna at all, and you have a fridge to put your lunch in at work, this just might become your new favorite brown bag lunch option.

There are a couple of important things that bump this up from regular tuna sandwiches, starting with the tuna.  I am a huge fan of Tonno Genova Tuna Packed in Olive Oil, so that's what I used.  But whatever tuna you choose, be sure it's good quality white tuna for best flavor.  Then the tuna is mixed with a very small amount of mayo, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, finely chopped celery, chopped capers, thinly sliced green onions, celery seed, and seasoned with a little salt or Vege-Sal.  The result is a tuna salad mixture that's a perfect combination with the crispy lettuce.  The diced tomatoes are definitely optional, but I thought they added a nice burst of extra flavor.

Recently I haven't been able to find the Tonna Genova tuna at my market, so I started buying Tonno Genova, 3 Ounce cans by the case from  (If anyone follows that link and buys a case of tuna, Kalyn's Kitchen does earn a few cents on the dollar, so thanks.)

Whatever tuna you use, be sure it's well-drained before you starting mixing in the seasonings.

I mixed together the mayo, Dijon, lemon juice, celery seed, and Vege-Sal.

Then finely chop the celery and capers and slice the green onions.

Mix the dressing into the tuna first, making sure it's well distributed.

Then stir in the chopped celery, chopped capers, and sliced green onions.

I used this gorgeous organic romaine lettuce, but you could also use iceberg or butter lettuce to wrap the tuna salad.

Fill each piece of washed lettuce with the tuna mixture, garnish with chopped cherry tomatoes, and eat!

Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps with Capers and Tomatoes
(Makes about 4 servings or 8 individual wraps; recipe adapted from The Ultimate Low-Carb Cookbook by Mary B. Johnson.

10-12 oz. good quality canned tuna (I used Tonno Genova Tuna Packed in Olive Oil.)
1/4 cup mayo or light mayo
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 T lemon juice
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. Vege-Sal (or a slightly smaller amount of salt)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 T capers, chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
8 large lettuce leaves, washed and dried (romaine, iceberg or butter lettuce will work for this)
1/2 cup chopped cherry tomatoes (optional)

Drain tuna into a fine-mesh strainer and press down to drain out the oil (or water if you use water-packed tuna.)  While tuna drains stir together the mayo, Dijon, lemon juice, celery seed, and Vege-Sal or salt.

Cut lettuce apart and pick out 8 large leaves.  (I used two heads of romaine and kept the smaller inner leaves for salad greens.)   Wash lettuce and spin dry in a salad spinner or dry with paper towels.  Chop the celery and capers and thinly slice the green onions.  Chop tomatoes if using.

When the tuna has drained, put it in a bowl (with a snap-tight lid if you won't be eating it all at once.)  Stir in the dressing until it's well-distributed in the tuna, then mix in the celery, capers, and green onions.

Fill lettuce leaves with the tuna mixture, garnish with cherry tomatoes, and eat with your hands.

This kept well in the fridge for several days.

South Beach Suggestions:
The South Beach Diet books only specify light tuna, but I would use water-packed or tuna packed in olive oil for this recipe (not regular oil-packed tuna).  I did use full-fat mayo without feeling too guilty, since there was only 1 tablespoon of mayo per serving.  This tasty lunch option would be great for any phase of the South Beach Diet.

More Tasty Phase One Lettuce Wraps:
Lettuce Wrap Fish Tacos with Spicy Cabbage Slaw and Avocado
Asian Lettuce Wraps with Pork, Napa Cabbage, and Red Bell Pepper
Thai-Inspired Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps
Asian Lettuce Cups (or wraps) with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling
Turkey Lettuce Wrap Tacos with Chiles, Cumin, Cilantro, Lime, and Tomato-Avocado Salsa
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More to Chew On:


  1. I've been stuffing all sorts of salads into lettuce wraps in the past few weeks, as I'm cutting back on bread. I love this jazzed up tuna (and I'm also partial to the oil-packed Italian tuna), and I'd definitely include the tomatoes, both for color and flavor.

  2. These look totally delicious. I can't wait to try them! I wonder how they'd taste with canned salmon...oh, delightul possibilities.

  3. This is so funny, I just made those yesterday. Well not as pretty as yours or as fun as yours but I used canned salmon. I really enjoyed it.

  4. I was just about to mark all my posts as read in Google reader, when I saw this! You will be my last read before I lift this huge burden off my shoulders.

  5. Lydia, isn't the olive oil packed tuna so flavorful. Since I tried it that's the only kind I buy!

    Kat, how fun that Angie has answered that for you in a later comment. Good idea to use salmon.

    Thanks Christine.

    Pam, So glad you are getting a fresh start with Google Reader. Everyone needs that once in a while!

  6. For some reason, the picture just made my mouth water! I need some great lunches like this to avoid eating what the cafeteria puts out there! Thanks.

  7. Thanks for a great packed lunch idea! I sometimes take tuna salad with me, but I've never made lettuce wraps out of it. I always include capers in my tuna salad. Capers and tuna go so well together! Other than that, my version includes onions and fresh parsley or African basil. It may also include olives and/or sundried tomatoes and my dressing is a simple one made with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

  8. Yum. A perfect lunch! I love tuna and have not seen that brand. Can't wait to try.

  9. i would have like tuna salad SO much more as a kid if my mom had put capers in it! Love this fun salad idea.

  10. I love your blog, Kalyn! This recipe is just the sort of thing I find especially helpful. I go in to work at noon and I could easily it this on the way in.

    I notice that you're a fan of Spike and Vege-Sal, have you ever tried Herbamare? It's an herbal seasoning salt, similar to Vege-Sal but just a little different. I love it, and it seems like something you might enjoy as well.

    Thanks for your wonderful blog!

  11. Katherine, glad it washelpful!

    Sue, your version sounds great!

    Allison, I love that tuna; never buy anything else.

    Joanne, thanks. My mom didn't even know what capers were I don't think.

    LaJulie, yes I have tried Herbamara and do like it.

  12. This looks great, but think I will do it with salmon instead...some of the ingredients are not available here in my part of Canada, but there may be similar ones, so it will still be tired of Christmas fare! Thanks for this!

  13. The romaine lettuce is so perfect for these! Love it, Kalyn.

  14. Kalyn, Pete would LOVE this. I'm not a huge fan of tuna (unless I'm pregnant!) but Pete eats it all the time and he also loves capers. Canola definitely have to make this for him!

  15. Paula, I'm sure it will be good with salmon.

    Cara, thanks. I did love it.

    Kelley so glad I came up with something that he will enjoy!

  16. I had these for lunch today. There were wonderful!!

  17. What a lovely presentation. And yum. Scrumptious recipe.

  18. Such a great simple recipe. I haven't seen romaine used in lettuce wraps before.

  19. I think this is a great recipe. Can't wait to try it out for myself.

  20. I just wanted to say I tried this recipe and WOW. I loved it.

  21. Me too! So glad you liked it.

  22. Hi Kalyn,

    When you first posted this, I thought it sounded really good and I pinned it on Pinterest. Well, it's been circulating, and apparently everyone thinks it sounds good. My pin alone currently has over 100 likes and almost 700 repins. It's been so popular! Maybe you're used to a large audience, but I thought you'd like to know that anyway. :)

  23. Jessica, wow! That's definitely amazing, and thanks for letting me know.

  24. These were great! I cut a roma tomato into bite size pieces instead of using the cherry tomatoes.

  25. It was sweet of you to comment over there (and respond here). :) Thanks!


  26. Jessica, I try my best to always be nice (and I really appreciate the pins!)

  27. I have had my eye on this recipe for a couple of months, and I finally made them for lunch today. Absolutely delicious! I am not a fan of seafood, and I love to eat any sort of mayo-based salad on crackers or a slice of bread... but I was perfectly satisfied in this case. Thanks for posting- scrumptious and healthy!

  28. I loved this combination! I just made it using left over rotisserie chicken breast and its wonderful! Thanks Kalyn!

  29. I love the idea of using this on chicken; thanks for sharing that!

  30. this looks amazeballs.... so colorful! just bought romaine hearts too! may jazz up with a little roasted red pepper. lunch totally covered tomorrow! :)

  31. CJ, glad you like it; I love this recipe!


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