Creamy Mediterranean Tuna Salad Recipe (without Mayo)
While everyone was busy gaining the “Freshman 15,” I was busy losing the rest of my “baby weight” and dodging the weight gain, without even trying. You see, my mom fed us very well growing up, so before college, I never really had to prepare a meal myself. It wasn’t for lack of trying. My mom liked to cook and take care of us, so much so that she quit her job while we were in school so she could do just this.
Her free time allowed for her to not only cook us a proper breakfast, but also pack a Pinterest-worthy lunch (before Pinterest was a thing), and have a hot dinner waiting for all of us to eat together nightly. She was also the chauffeur to every single sporting event and even attended practices. At the time, I was mortified by this, but looking back, I wish I were able to do even half of what she did for my own children.
Back to college when I was given a “budget” to buy my own groceries, I realized how difficult it was to afford my guilty pleasures, while also satisfying my hunger, cravings, and energy levels. This is when I stumbled on canned tuna. You see, I quickly realized that my dormitory was the furthest building from the majority of my classes, and I didn’t have very much time to grab a meal, let alone a snack, in-between classes that would keep me focused.
Let’s back up… originally, I stopped at a vending machine and grabbed a cinnamon bun or pop tarts. It didn’t take long to learn these were initially great at boosting my energy and attention, but boy was that crash brutal. This only led to more sugary snacks. Then by the time I got home, I was out of money to eat a decent meal, so I would inevitably starve.
Now that we are caught up to speed, back to the canned tuna. I soon discovered that a can of tuna was pretty darn inexpensive, and I could add either mayo or mustard and, if I was feeling adventurous, a little relish and some salt and pepper. I could create a super-filling meal on the cheap that kept me going for many hours. And it was pretty tasty, too. When I wanted something a little more, I would either scoop it up with crackers or make a legit sammich.
After I got out of the dorms, I was still hooked on tuna salad and began getting creative with it—adding all sorts of things. Then realized if I was packing this to take with me on the go, mayo was probably not the best option. I experimented with extra virgin olive oil and fancier mustards than just yellow mustard (think Stoneground and Dijon). As I graduated, grew up, and had a family of my own, I now have a little bit of an elevated palate, and this is where it led me to the following recipe.
Let me know what you think. Did I graduate? 😉
Dijon Mustard Dressing
- 2.5 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 lime zest
- 2 limes juiced
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cans tuna drained
- 2 celery stalks chopped
- 1 cucumber deseeded and chopped
- 3 green onions chopped
- ½ red onion chopped
- ½ cup Kalamata olives halved
- Combine all the tuna salad ingredients.
- Toss with dressing.
- Spoon onto a plate of lettuce, spinach, or your choice of leafy greens.