Do you feel as strongly about pasta salads as I do? Walk away screaming at the sight of elbow macaroni with diced ham and frozen peas? Would never add bottled French dressing to a perfect bowl of carbs and vegetables?
I sure hope so. Because this one’s for you.
I was just telling Brani the other day how I was the strangest kid ever when it came to eating.
Didn’t like ice cream, made me feel ill. Never ate whipped cream, made me feel ill as well. Hated creamy dressings, because you guessed it: Made. Me. Feel. Ill.
Also, I became vegetarian at the tender age of eight. Something especially my farm-to-table, nose-to-tale grandparents couldn’t really wrap their heads around.
Unfortunately for them, I was a stubborn child. Fortunately for them, I stopped being vegetarian six years later. That must have been quite the sigh of relief.
The child is getting nutrients again. Ha!
Anyways, as a young kid the French dressed ham and pea macaroni salad was basically my worst nightmare come true. (And especially so if it was followed by an ice cream sundae. The horror!)
Luckily, my mom was equally not interested in said salad and instead made pasta salads with homemade vinaigrettes and plenty of fresh herbs and vegetables.
And I’ve (mostly) kept this up ever since. Sometimes, very very occasionally, I’ll come up with something crazy like this creamy pizza pasta salad.
But usually when I want to make a pasta salad I just grab whatever fresh produce I can find in the fridge and toss it with my toddler’s favorite carbs and a simple dressing.
And when I’m feeling frisky I dice up some cheese or cooked chicken. Or, even better, I toss in a can of tuna.
Because that toddler lady? She loves eating fishies.
Now as I said in the beginning:
This Mediterranean Tuna Pasta Salad is for all you fellow pasta salad snobs out there. Why? Because:
- It is bursting with fresh vegetables. I admit, they take a little more work than frozen peas (and don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the convenience of frozen peas). But they also taste a lot better in a salad.
- No heavy dressing. Just a simple olive oil, lemon juice situation.
- Lots of flavor. There’s peppery arugula (arugula is amazing in salads, see this Farro Arugula Salad if you need proof). Salty capers. Herby parsley. And so much more – I could go on all day long.
I know we’re all busy people. Sometimes the thought of bottled salad dressing, ham and frozen peas just makes so much more sense than this crazy lady right here talking about dicing stuff and whisking stuff just for a pasta salad.
But. You knew there was a but coming.
Sometimes it’s good to break free from the thought that food always has to be the fastest. This is still plenty fast.
And it’s always, always good to skip the bottled salad dressing.
You don’t even have to follow this particular recipe. I mean you do, but on the off-chance you want to fight me on this you can also just do your own thing.
Just follow these rules: No bottled salad dressing. No mayo anything. Plenty of fresh vegetables.
Oh, what am I saying. Just make this recipe already, and then shout it from the rooftops!
Mediterranean Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe
- 0.25 Olive Oil
- 0.25 Lemon Juice
- 1 Pure Maple Syrup
- Salt and Pepper To taste
- 8 Penne Cooked and rinsed under cold water
- 1 Capers
- Fresh Parsley Chopped
- 1 Red Onion Chopped
- 0.25 Chopped Black Olives
- 16 Cherry Tomatoes Halved
- 1 Yellow Bell Pepper Sliced
- 1 Tuna Drained
- 2 Fresh Arugula
- Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, and salt and pepper in a large bowl.
- Add the penne, capers, parsley, onion, olives, tomatoes, bell pepper, tuna, and arugula to the dressing and toss well.
- I recommend serving the salad immediately. Double the dressing if you want to make it ahead of time, keep the salad well chilled and add the extra dressing just before serving. I’d also recommend adding the arugula last-minute, else it will wilt.