Tuna Salad

It would get absolutely hot and muggy in Tampa, FL when I was a kid.  And it was several years before we had any kind of air conditioning.  And I remember my favorite hot summer dinner that Mom would make–Tuna Salad.

She’d do it early in the morning before everything got too hot and then she’d pop it  in the fridge to chill down for dinner.  I’m talking about simple, homemade tuna salad.  This is something I still really enjoy eating on a hot summer night always accompanied by a stack of saltines to add their salty crispness to the meal.

And I never really had a recipe for it…I just kind of knew how to make it from watching my Mom do it all those years.  But I like to kick it up with just a bit more crunch fresh vegetables including fresh jalapeno.

tasty summertime tuna salad

So, we’re getting into that time of the year.  Last week we had our first 100 degree days here in Vista and I know that there’ll be more before fall takes over—whenever that may be.

If you’ve never made it, you’ll love the simplicity and how inexpensive it is.  And if you make it now, well maybe there’ll be an idea or 2 in here for you.

(Print version at end of post)

Tuna Salad

  • Ingredientstuna salad ingredients
    2 Cans 5 oz. each Chunk Lite Tuna in water
    2/3 cup chopped onion
    2/3 cup chopped celery
    2/3 cup chopped bell pepper
    16 oz elbow macaroni or other small shaped pasta
    ¼ cup mayonnaise or “salad dressing”
    Salt
    Garlic powder
    Cuminchopped vegetables
    Black Pepper

Directions
Get out your pasta pot, cutting board, chef’s knife, a large bowl and colander.
Turn the stove on high and fill your pasta pot about 2/3 with water.  Add a couple of teaspoons of salt.
Put the pot on the stove and bring to a rolling boil.  Add the pasta.
Chop up the vegetables and toss them into the bowl.  rinse pasta
Open up the tuna.  Drain it well (just push down on the lid once it’s open and upend the can over the sink drain.
Dump the tuna into the bowl.
Check the pasta. You want it “al dente”.
Remove pasta from stove and drain it into the colander.
Rinse pasta with cold water (you normally wouldn’t do this to pasta but this is to “shock” it, cool it down and stop it cooking).
Dump about half the pasta into the bowl.
Add the mayonnaise/salad dressing.add tuna
Add seasonings.  How much? ENOUGH.  Why cumin?  Because WE like cumin!
Stir, stir, stir then add the rest of the pasta or however much of it you want—sometimes I only use about ¾ of it.
If it’s too dry, add another spoonful of mayo and stir some more—you’re going to refrigerate this for several hours and it will absorb some of the moisture from the mayo..  Taste test.  Adjust seasonings. 6mix it all (Remember, you can always add more but once seasoning is in, you can’t take it out.  I’ve messed up a lot of dishes over seasoning too soon).
Put a cover on the bowl—plastic wrap if nothing else and put it in the fridge for 3-4 hours minimum.
When you take it out of the fridge, taste test it again and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Serve this with saltines on the side.

(Print version at end of post)

Now this is really simple, isn’t it?  Right out of the late 1950’s early ‘60’s.  But that’s OK because this is good.  And it’s also really, really good on one of those days that’s “butt stinkin’ hot” as my stepdaughter Megan likes to say.  It’ll cool you down and fill you up.  And, you cooked early in the day and don’t have to put the effort into it after you get home wilted, hot and tired.

So I guess I’ll just call this hot weather comfort food.

Summertime Tuna Salad

The Cheap Bastid Test:  Well, this is pretty reasonable.  It’ll easily serve 4 for dinner with leftovers for the next day.  2 cans of tuna cost about $1.80 on special.  The pasta about $1 on special and the fresh vegetables were on hand but let’s call them $1 too.  Add about $.50 for the rest of the ingredients and you come up with $4.30.  That’s cheap!

That’s the Cheap Bastid Way:  Eat Good. Eat Cheap. Be Grateful!

Tuna Salad
 
 
Here's a lunch or dinner for when it's hot, hot, hot. Make it in the morning and chill it down. Then enjoy it's cool you down goodness.
:
: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: American
: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 Cans 5 oz. each Chunk Lite Tuna in water
  • ⅔ cup chopped onion
  • ⅔ cup chopped celery
  • ⅔ cup chopped bell pepper
  • 16 oz elbow macaroni or other small shaped pasta
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise or “salad dressing”
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Cumin
  • Black Pepper
Instructions
  1. Get out your pasta pot, cutting board, chef’s knife, a large bowl and colander.
  2. Turn the stove on high and fill your pasta pot about ⅔ with water. Add a couple of teaspoons of salt.
  3. Put the pot on the stove and bring to a rolling boil. Add the pasta.
  4. Chop up the vegetables and toss them into the bowl.
  5. Open up the tuna. Drain it well (just push down on the lid once it’s open and upend the can over the sink drain.
  6. Dump the tuna into the bowl.
  7. Check the pasta. You want it “al dente”.
  8. Remove pasta from stove and drain it into the colander.
  9. Rinse pasta with cold water (you normally wouldn’t do this to pasta but this is to “shock” it, cool it down and stop it cooking).
  10. Dump about half the pasta into the bowl.
  11. Add the mayonnaise/salad dressing.
  12. Add seasonings. How much? ENOUGH. Why cumin? Because WE like cumin!
  13. Stir, stir, stir then add the rest of the pasta or however much of it you want—sometimes I only use about ¾ of it.
  14. If it’s too dry, add another spoonful of mayo and stir some more—you’re going to refrigerate this for several hours and it will absorb some of the moisture from the mayo.. Taste test. Adjust seasonings. (Remember, you can always add more but once seasoning is in, you can’t take it out. I’ve messed up a lot of dishes over seasoning too soon).
  15. Put a cover on the bowl—plastic wrap if nothing else and put it in the fridge for 3-4 hours minimum.
  16. When you take it out of the fridge, taste test it again and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  17. Serve this with saltines on the side.

 

 

About Walter Blevins

My wife started to call me Cheap Bastid a while back because I enjoyed coming up with dinners that cost next to nothing--and making them taste good. Yeah, I love to cook. And I love to cook good food cheap. I'm not a chef and I'm definitely not anything close to a gourmet. I'm just a home cook who grew up in a home where cooking was from scratch and was a little bit Midwest and a little bit country. That's because my Mom was from Michigan and my Dad was from Kentucky. I started sharing recipes when my daughter called me in 2006 and asked for my recipe for Swiss Steak. That year for Christmas I put together a cookbook for my 2 kids called "Dad's Everyday Cookbook and Kitchen Survival Guide". And I heard back that they both use it regularly. It was full of basic recipes that I had cooked for them when they were growing up. I work hard at creating recipes that are original and creative and inexpensive. You won't find a foo-foo foodie approach to my recipes and style. I believe that it's OK for food to go up the side of a plate. Food is for eating--it doesn't have to be pretty. And I write about my cooking and my recipes so that I can share them. I hope you enjoy these posts. Leave me a comment--that you liked something or that you didn't, it doesn't matter. I'd love to hear from you.
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3 Responses to Tuna Salad

  1. RubeRad says:

    My family’s version of this classic uses 1 of everything:

    1 bag (lb) egg noodles
    1 bag (lb) frozen peas
    1 can cr. mushroom soup
    1 c sour cream
    1 large can tuna

    Boil peas + noodles together. Meanwhile mix sour cream, cr. mushroom, and tuna in a big bowl. When noodles are done, strain, mix in, and since the hot noodles/peas have raised the temp of the sauce, it’s ready to serve with no more cooking.

    For some reason I really love to eat these refrigerated leftovers cold, and drowned in worcestershire sauce.

    I like the idea of a little crunch in yours though; plus cumin sounds good (I already do add cumin to tuna+mayo for sandwiches, and chopped celery if we have it)

  2. steve s says:

    We always have this without the paste, and use it for sandwiches. I will try it with pasta next time.

    • Walter Blevins says:

      Steve I do the same thing…make it without pasta and then either eat it in a sandwich or scoop it up with saltines.

Comments are closed.