Move aside, saggy tuna salad! Try swapping that store-bought mayo for a simple drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil combined with a shake of dried basil and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Not only will your lunch taste better, it’ll be better for you since most store-bought mayonnaise is made with soybean and/or corn oil that has been rendered rancid through the refinement process. (Soy and corn are commodity crops, which means that big growers receive subsidies and that soy and corn are consequently cheap and popular ingredients in processed foods.)
In this upgraded tuna salad, I’ve also included savory elements like capers and olives. Feel free to leave those out if you’re not a fan, of course, but even folks who don’t think they like olives usually enjoy green Niçoise olives and Castelvetrano olives — both are buttery and smooth and are equally tasty in a dish or on their own. But do include the hard-boiled eggs since they add a rich creaminess that’s far superior to the diluted, tiny amount of egg yolk that would have been in commercial mayo. (Or whip up your own batch of on-the-spot homemade mayo. That’s delicious, too!)
Savory Tuna Salad with Capers, Olives & Parmesan
This recipe can be made for any number of diners. Just plan on 1 egg, 2 ounces of dry pasta, and 2 or 3 ounces of tuna per person.
Eggs, preferably from pastured hens
Whole-grain penne/pasta of your choice (I used corn penne, which is gluten-free as well as whole-grain)
Tuna canned in water
Cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Spoonful of capers (optional, but adds a flavorful and briny punch)
Olives, either pitted and chopped or served whole alongside the salad
Grated or shaved Parmesan, preferably made with milk from grass-fed cows
Extra-virgin olive oil
Place eggs in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil. As soon as the water boils, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer eggs for 10 minutes. Spill out hot water while filling pot with cold water from the tap. Allow eggs to sit in cold water to cool before you peel them. Note: the fresher the egg, the harder it will be to peel, so instead of being upset with a hard-to-peel egg, rejoice in its freshness!
While the eggs simmer, cook penne according to package directions. Drain well and toss with tuna, tomatoes, capers, olives, Parmesan, basil, and a drizzle of the oil. Peel and coarsely chop hard-boiled eggs and add them to the salad. Toss well. Salad can be enjoyed immediately or refrigerated for up to 4 days. This is a fantastic take-with-you lunch, so you might want to make extra salad so that you can enjoy your upgraded tuna salad at work the next day.
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