Not-Your-Average Tuna Pasta Salad (Gluten Free Optional)
With summer almost here (didn’t spring just get here yesterday?), I’m on the hunt for more picnic/potluck friendly dishes and this tuna pasta salad recipe fits the bill. I’ve always liked the concepts of tuna salad and pasta salad separately, but I’ve had my fair share of mushy, mayo-soaked tuna and over-dressed, relentlessly sour pasta salads. Anyone else know what I mean? This recipe is neither of those!
For this salad, I decided to experiment with Banza’s chickpea pasta and found that I really like how the structure held up with the dressing, and the mild chickpea flavor is super tasty. I also love that chickpea pasta is packed with protein and fiber. Celery, gherkins, carrot and red onion bring crunch, acidity and color. A punchy mustard and mayo-light dressing works more like a sauce here and binds everything together.
I always feel victorious when I bring a veggie-packed dish to parties that’s well-received. It’s my (not-so) subtle attempt to nourish the collective belly.
Tuna Pasta Salad
Recipe Notes: For the pasta, you’ll see instructions to rinse the pasta after cooking. While I don’t rinse pasta for hot dishes, I recommend rinsing for cold salads to cool off the pasta immediately after cooking. Rinsing also helps keep the pasta from clumping together, which I find is particularly helpful for gluten-free pastas. Tossing with a bit of olive oil here also keeps the pasta loose so it’ll combine evenly with the rest of the salad ingredients. Also, try to keep from overcooking the pasta, because soft pasta combined with the dressing makes it even softer. Mushy is not a desirable adjective.
½ lb whole wheat or gluten free pasta of your choice (I used chickpea pasta shells)
1 (5- oz) can tuna, drained and flaked with a fork
1 stalk celery, diced small
1 carrot, grated
½ a small red onion, diced small
⅓ cup gherkins or cornichons, chopped small
2-3 tsp dijon mustard (I used 3, but I prefer a strong mustard taste)
3 tbs apple side vinegar
3 tbs avocado oil mayo
1 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper
Handful of fresh parsley or dill, finely chopped
Cook pasta according to package instructions until about 1 minute beyond al dente. Drain and rinse. Toss with olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt. Set aside.
While pasta cooks, making dressing by whisk together vinegar, mustard and mayo in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, place the drained pasta, tuna, celery, carrot, onion, and cornichons. Add dressing and gently combine. Mix in fresh herbs.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Adjust dressing as needed. Option to serve over salad greens like baby spinach or a mache blend. The salad can be served right away, but I prefer to set aside for 15 minutes before serving so the dressing has time to soak into the pasta. Salad can be kept for up to 3 days in the fridge.