Tuna Salad – not my mother’s….

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Tuna Salad. 

When I was growing up this mixture of canned tuna, Creamettes, green peas, celery, cubed faux cheese and mayonnaise was a staple of summer picnics and family reunions.  My mother made it at least six times a summer and we all loved it.  When my sister got married she made it.  When I left home, and finally had my own kitchen, I made it.  Everyone that I knew growing up made it.  Occasionally there would be heartfelt discussions about the addition of green pepper or (gasp) olives but there were no serious modifications to the classic.

It wasn't a 'pasta salad'.  It was 'Tuna Salad' or 'Macaroni Salad' depending on your family tradition.

Then came the '80's.  Tuna salad was out.  Macaroni salad was out.  Creamettes were so far out as to be in another galaxy altogether.  We had 'Pasta Salads' made with  Portobello Mushrooms, Prosciutto, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Fusilli.

Canned tuna was out (How could they?)  Even the traditional Salade Niçoise was, in some chichi places, bastardized and made with 'Pan-Seared Ahi' (How could they?  Does tradition and hundreds of years of perfection mean nothing?  Does everyone think they can do 'it' better?  Am I up on that damn soapbox again?)

Well, my friends, you have another think coming.  Allow me to introduce the Tuna Salad of the 21st Century:Tunasalad

Tuna  Salad

1 1/4 cups whole wheat farfalle,
1 tbs good olive oil
1 can tuna (9 oz)
1 can Cannellini beans, 15oz (450gr)
1/2 cup green olives
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 green pepper
2 – 3 stalks sliced celery
1 tbs fresh snipped tarragon
1 tbs fresh snipped chives
Creamy Dressing

Cook pasta according to package directions.  When done, drain, put in a large bowl and toss with 1 tbs olive oil.  Open, drain and rinse beans.  Open and drain tuna.  (if your tuna is packed in good olive oil you can reserve it and use it in the dressing.)  Cut cherry tomatoes and olives in half.  Slice celery – diagonally is nice.  Slice pepper into matchsticks.  Snip herbs.  Make dressing and add to the pasta, tossing gently to coat.  Break up tuna and add to pasta, toss to combine.  Add tomatoes, peppers, celery, olives, beans and herbs and toss lightly. 

Creamy Herb Dressing

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs fresh snipped chives
1 tbs fresh snipped tarragon
3 tbs olive oil – the good stuff

Snip tarragon and chives with scissors. In small bowl whisk yogurt, mustard and lemon juice. Add oil, a bit at a time and whisk well. Add herbs.

Yeah, okay, so I made some changes.  It's healthier, lighter, fresher.  So sue me.  It's my blog and my kitchen.  But you'll love this salad….

This is my submission to the growing, wonderful group of pastas showcased by Ruth, of Once Upon A  Feast for Presto Pasta Night!  Check out her blog on Friday for all the great recipes collected this week.

12 thoughts on “Tuna Salad – not my mother’s….”

  1. Love the dressing recipe – we use lots of sour cream dressings in Estonia, but never season it with mustard or such like. I think I can easily adapt your yogurt dressing recipe for using here..

  2. Hooray, a healthy salad that uses tarragon — which I have in such abundance in my garden right now that I’m looking for every which way to use it!

  3. It does look good and I’m intrigued by the combo of tuna and tarragon. I haven’t ever seen whole wheat farfalle here; would love to find some.

  4. I love tarragon! I caanot seem to find it here since we moved to FL and I am getting a little desperate, but that’s a whole other story! I love tuna with pasta and tuna with cannellini beans! So this sounds like comfort food heaven!

  5. One thing my girls LOVE in the USA is my dad’s macaroni salad! He now calls it “pasta salad” and actually makes it with different types of pasta, but it is the basic American “macaroni” salad of yore: summer comfort food.
    I never really met the tuna version, though. Does that mean I could be younger than someone — anyone? Nope, probably not…

  6. Pille, I started substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream when we lived in Andorra – it was as close as I could get. Now it’s just handy – I always have yogurt in the fridge.
    Meredith, Great minds…and all that!
    Lydia, tarragon can get kind of out of control, but I love it and use lots…not as much as it produces, tho… LOL
    Kalyn, I like tarragon with any kind of fish. I put it in ‘tartar sauce’, too!
    Betty, My mother occasionally made it without tuna – but then we kids didn’t eat it… And (she says prosaically) of course your younger then someone! Aren’t we all?
    I love it that it’s your dad’s dish!
    Jenn, I think tarragon likes it a bit cooler. Maybe they grow it in winter?

  7. Great post-fab story (I remember all those decades and their variations)and a terrific new healthful salad to make. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

  8. Jann, I love tarragon with fish, especially tuna.
    Anh, it expands easily for parties, picnics, leftovers…
    Ruth, I wonder if I would still like the old version….loaded with mayo and cheese…
    yeah, I’d like it!

  9. The answer to what to do with a leftover topping for salmon that had plain Greek yogurt, lemon, and tarragon! And I still have the other half cup of yogurt! Thanks!
    (But I still make our family’s variant on the 50s macaroni salad for covered dish suppers …)

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