Stir together this mayonnaise-free mediterranean tuna salad for lunch in just 10 minutes. It’s loaded with incredible flavor from fresh scallion, basil, olives and roasted red peppers. This recipe is naturally gluten-free, paleo and low carb.
I originally shared this recipe on May 10th, 2016. I have updated the text and photos today.
Why This Recipe Works
I love tuna salad and eat it once a week. Canned tuna is rich in Omega 3’s and it is a convenient source of protein so it can be a healthy part of your diet.
I especially love it when it is all dolled up with loads of Mediterranean flavors like fresh basil, olives and lemon. You can make it into a sandwich or serve it on bib lettuce for a lower carb and grain-free lunch.
Ingredient Notes For This Recipe
Note: This recipe uses one can of tuna and makes two small or one large portion. It can be doubled!
For this recipe I recommend sustainable canned Troll or Pole Caught Pacific Skipjack tuna because it is lower in mercury and a safe choice for sustainable fishing practices.
As with all seafood, it is a great idea to check with the latest information on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list before you shop. The Monterey Bay folks right now say that pole and troll caught Pacific Albacore and Pacific Skipjack are the way to go. But you have to be careful that this is the case and to not buy if you aren’t sure that it is on the green or yellow list due to severe overfishing in parts of the world.
Though I grew up eating solid white canned tuna, and used to prefer it, now I have gotten used to “light.” Now, I don’t mind the stronger taste of the “light” varieties.
Lemon Juice and Olive Oil
If you do not like mayonnaise, then this is the tuna salad for you! The “dressing” is made with lemon juice and olive oil. It gives it great bright Mediterranean flavor.
To give this salad a lot of pep, I added in fresh chopped scallions. You can also use finely chopped red onion instead.
I always love celery in my tuna salad and it adds great crunch and volume to this recipe too. Slice it lengthwise then crosswise into small dices.
I bought pre pitted and sliced Kalamata greek olives for this recipe, but any Italian or Greek black olive will do.
If you buy whole olives with the pit, press them into the cutting board with the side of a chef’s knife to make it easier to remove the pits. Then chop lightly to leave the pieces large.
The taste of the fresh basil in this recipe is my favorite part! If you do not have any, you can omit it, but do not substitute dried basil wich has an entirely different flavor. Instead you could add a tablespoon of chopped fresh oregano or dill. Or t teaspoon dried oregano or dill.
How To Make This Recipe For Mediterranean Tuna Salad
Step 1. Drain the tuna, empty the can (or cans if doubling) into a large bowl. Break it up with a fork into small chunks.
Step 2. Drizzle with lemon, olive oil and pepper and salt. Toss to coat with the dressing.
Step 3. Toss the tuna with the scallion, celery, red pepper and basil.
Step 4. Lay butter lettuce on the plates and top with the tuna, dividing evenly.
Expert Tips and FAQs For This Recipe
What About Mercury in Tuna:
Many people are scared to eat canned tuna because of high levels of mercury. Learn more about the tuna recommendations here from the environmental defense fund.
Generally speaking, lower mercury options will generally be the “Light” varieties not the “White.” Albacore tuna (white) is higher in mercury, which has to do with the fact that they are big fish that bio-accumulate mercury by eating smaller fish.
Note that Wild Harvest albacore has lower levels than most canned albacore because they catch younger fish which have not accumulated as much mercury.
Also keep in mind that kids need to limit the amount of canned tuna to a serving of light tuna once a week (that’s for kids over the age of 6.)
Yes! You can make the tuna salad up to 1 day ahead. The basil will wilt slightly but will still taste great. Top the lettuce with the tuna just before serving.
Yes! Canned salmon with the bones and skins is a great alternative to canned tuna. Usually canned salmon comes in slightly larger cans than tuna. For simplicity sake sub one 6 ounce can of salmon per 5 oz can of tuna.
Absolutely! Simply double the ingredients to make four small or two large servings. (Note nutritional info below is based on two servings per can of tuna.)
More Lunches and Mediterranean Inspired Dishes
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Turn canned light tuna into a flavorful meal in just 10 minutes. This is a no-mayo tuna salad with Mediterranean flavors including black olives, roasted red peppers, basil and lemon.
1 can sustainable light tuna packed in water, with salt, drained
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 scallion minced
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
¼ cup minced roasted red pepper
2 tablespoons chopped olives
1 tablespoon chopped basil
4 leaves butterhead lettuce, washed and dried
- Mash tuna in a medium bowl.
- Add lemon juice, oil, pepper and salt and toss to coat.
- Add scallion, celery, red pepper, olives and basil and stir to combine.
- Divide lettuce leaves between two plates. Top with the tuna salad and serve.
You can substitute 1 6 ounce drained can salmon instead of tuna.
The tuna salad can be made up to 1 day ahead. Top the lettuce with the tuna just before serving.
- Serving Size: 2 pieces lettuce and about 3/4 cup tuna salad
- Calories: 260
- Sugar: 2 g
- Sodium: 286 mg
- Fat: 21 g
- Saturated Fat: 3 g
- Carbohydrates: 4 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 24 g