Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe with Lemon, Green Olives, and Cucumbers

Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe with Lemon, Green Olives, and Cucumbers
When I started looking in the pantry for something to eat, this Tuna Pasta Salad was the happy result!

Pasta salad.  When I say that do any particularly memorable pasta salads come to mind?  You're lucky if they do, because I think pasta salad is always in danger of being a bit boring if you don't make sure to use strongly flavored and interesting ingredients.  I'm happy to report this pasta salad experiment I concocted recently was loaded with flavor due to good quality tuna in olive oil, chopped Spanish green olives, and a generous amount of lemon juice and zest in the dressing.  I also added finely chopped baby cucumbers for a little crunch, and I happily ate this all day long the day I made it.   

I'm a huge fan of this Tonno Genova Tuna Packed in Olive Oil, but lately I can't find it at any stores by my house.   I can't go without it, so I buy it by the case from in the small 3 oz. cans.  I used 2 cans for this salad, but a 5 oz. can of tuna would also be fine.

Let the tuna drain while you cook the pasta and prep other ingredients.

Slice the green olives and chop the cucumbers.

If I'm making pasta or pasta salad, I'm probably using Dreamfields Low-Carb Pasta.  This time I used rotini, but penne or macaroni would also work.  I cooked the pasta exactly 9 minutes in salted water.  Don't overcook!

Zest most of the peel and squeeze all the juice from one large lemon.  (I used about 1 T lemon zest and nearly 3 T lemon juice.)  I like it lemony (!) so if you're not such a lemon fan you might want to add part of the juice and zest and taste to see if you want more.

Stir together the lemon zest, lemon juice, green olive brine, and mayo and then whisk in the olive oil to make the dressing.

Put the tuna, sliced green olives, and chopped cucumbers in a bowl and mix in about half the dressing.

Then gently stir in the cooled pasta and the rest of the dressing (or enough that the salad is as moist as you'd like it.  Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve.

Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe with Lemon, Green Olives, and Cucumbers
(Makes 4 generous servings; recipe created by Kalyn.)

Salad Ingredients:
2 cups (dry) Dreamfields Low-Carb rotini, cooked in boiling salted water and drained well
5-6 oz. good quality tuna packed in olive oil, drained
8 large Spanish green olives, cut into half moon slices (about 2/3 cup sliced olives)
2 small Persian cucumbers, cut into very small dice
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Dressing Ingredients:
lemon zest and lemon juice from one large lemon (about 1 T zest and 3 T lemon juice)
1/2 tsp. olive bring (from the jar of olives)
3 T mayo (I used regular mayo, but you could use light mayo if you prefer)
1 T olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding a couple of teaspoons of salt.  When the water boils, add the pasta, stir, and let it come back to a boil.  Lower heat a little and cook exactly 9 minutes (time it!) and then drain the pasta and let it cool.  (Don't rinse.)

While the pasta cooks, drain the tuna into a fine strainer and let the oil drain out.  Slice the olives into half-moon slices and finely chop the cucumbers.  (If you don't have small Persian cucumbers, I might scrape out the seeds from the cucumber so the salad doesn't get watery.)

Zest and juice the lemon.  If you're not sure how much lemon flavor you want, I would start with 2 T lemon juice and 2 tsp. lemon zest, mix in the olive brine and mayo, whisk in the olive oil, and then taste to see if you want to use the rest of the lemon juice and zest.

When the pasta has cooled, add the tuna, sliced olives, and chopped cucumbers to a bowl that's big enough to hold all the salad and mix in about half the dressing.  Gently stir in the pasta and as much additional dressing as you need for the salad to be as wet as you'd like it.  (I used all the dressing, but I like my salads on the wet side.)  Season salad to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve.

I served some of this to my nephew Jake when it had been in the fridge overnight and we agreed it was still very good the next day.  If you have leftover dressing, you might want to add a bit more to the salad after it's been in the fridge.

South Beach Suggestions: 
If you make this with Dreamfields Low-Carb Pasta or whole wheat pasta, all the other ingredients here are good low-glycemic choices that would make this suitable for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet.  The salad is relatively high in fat, so use portion control, especially if eating it for phase 2.

Ten More Not-Boring Pasta Salads You Might Like
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Shrimp and Macaroni Salad from Kalyn's Kitchen
Pasta Salad with Italian Sausage, Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Olives from Kalyn's Kitchen
Macaroni Salad with Fresh Tomatoes, Fresh Basil, and Feta from Kalyn's Kitchen
Easy Pesto Pasta Salad with Olives and Roasted Red Peppers from Kalyn's Kitchen
Lemon-Infused Gluten-Free Pasta Salad with Fresh Herbs and Grilled Asparagus from Gluten-Free Goddess
Whole Wheat Greek Orzo Salad from Pinch My Salt
Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Salmon, Tomatoes, and Herb Dressing from Cookin' Canuck
Layered Pasta Salad from Real Mom Kitchen
Pesto Pasta Salad from Created by Diane
Tuna Pasta Salad from Macheesmo
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.) counter customizable free hit
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More to Chew On:


  1. I can see why you would snack on this all day - love these flavors!!

  2. This sounds like a delicious recipe! Thanks for sharing it.

  3. Deborah and Betty, I did love it! Definitely a repeater too.

  4. Thank you for your blog and I nominated you for an award, here is my post if you’d like to accept!

  5. I love the mediterranean flavors in this pasta salad! Definitely a nice change from the pasta salad norm.

  6. Liz, thanks for thinking of me. I've been blogging for so long that I don't really do that sort of thing any more but I do appreciate the thought.

    Joanne, glad you like it!

  7. I'll be forever grateful to your blog for introducing me to Dreamfields. I'd pretty much given up pasta, and while I still don't eat it often, I love having the low-carb option. I'm also a huge fan of the Italian canned tuna. Bringing it together with lemon sounds delightful -- and I'd probably nibble on it all day, too!

  8. Lydia, I don't eat pasta that often either, but using Dreamfields makes it such a better choice for me, love it!

  9. I need to make more pasta salads. Thanks for the delicious reminder.

  10. This is a great idea and I did pick up some Dreamfield pasta last time I was at the store. Thank you.

  11. This one looks like something I must try. I love pasta and tuna and it looks so delicious in the photos.

  12. Hi there, this is a really nice post about fish/seafood. It would be great if you linked to it in my Food on Friday series. This week it is about all things fishy and seafoody. Food on Friday

  13. Oh this was delicious! I made it today for lunch and seriously have not stopped eating it since and now it's almost gone! Great taste and very simple. I had no problem finding the tuna at my Ralph's (Kroger) store. Thanks for a great recipe!

  14. Just made this! It was YUMMY. I just had a bite since I'm saving it for lunch tomorrow but it was really good. I love olives, those were a great addition. I threw in some chopped up red peppers too!!

  15. I just found this on pinterest, and had to make it the same day. It was so light and refreshing! I love it! I followed the recipe exactly, and have already eaten two bowls. Thank you for this delicious summer dish!

  16. Tiffany, my pleasure! So glad you enjoyed it!

  17. I've made this a couple of times with quinoa (about 2 cups cooked) instead of pasta and it's great that way, too.

  18. Ronnie, I love that idea! I might have to try it and post your version as a separate recipe (with credit to you of course!)


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