Saturday, June 4, 2011

Tuna Pasta Salad

Just another normal seasonal change in Wisconsin.  It appears that we've skipped over spring time and gone right into summer.  Not that I'm complaining mind you.....I love the warmth and the sunshine after a long, long, looooooooong gray winter.  This is the kind of weather where the last thing anyone wants to do is stay inside and fire up their stove.

Unless we're talking pasta salad.
Pasta. Veggies. Some kind of protein. Dressing.  YUM!!

I've hit that point where I am beginning to crave cool, lovely summer salads.  Whether they're pasta or chicken salads, using a creamy dressing or vinaigrette, I. Love. Them.
A little extra tomato never hurt anyone, right?

First salad up for this season?  My mom's tuna pasta salad.

Tuna Pasta Salad
Recipe adapted from my mom

1 lb short-cut, whole wheat pasta
1/2 lb frozen green beans, cut into 1" pieces
2/3 - 3/4 cup mayo
2 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp celery salt
2 can tuna, drained
1 tiny yellow onion, finely chopped [you want about a 1/4 cup of chopped onion]
1 large tomato, chopped [or two medium ones]
1/2 cup sliced black olives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Salt the water and cook pasta to al dente according to package directions.  In the last four minutes of the pasta cooking, add the green beans.  Drain the pasta mixture in a large colander and rinse with cold water to stop everything from cooking.  Set aside.
I could just snack on this actually

2.  While you wait for the pasta water to boil, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, vinegar (use your favorite; I like red wine vinegar and it gives this dressing a pretty blush color), and celery salt.  Set aside to let the flavors get to know each other.
Creamy deliciousness

3.  In a large bowl combine the pasta, green beans, tomato, onion, tuna, and black olives.  Drizzle with the dressing.  Toss to combine and make sure everything is well-coated in the dressing.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge at least one hour before serving.  Longer would be better.
Color explosion is a good thing
I like this recipe for a variety of reasons.  First is kind of obvious because I wouldn't make something year after year that didn't TASTE GOOD!  I think this salad has this fabulous saltiness to it between the celery salt in the dressing, tuna, and black olives.

Second, it makes a TON.  When the weather gets hot, I prefer to have the stove working as little as possible so I like cold salads that can feed a small army.  This makes enough to be a main dish for 4-6 people but could also be a side dish for 8-10.

Third, it just looks pretty.  I love all the colors in the salad between the nutty brown pasta, ruby tomatoes, dark dark dark olives, and gorgeous green beans.  It's a beautiful addition to any summer plate.

I do want to make a note about the dressing for this salad.  This is one of the very few times where I'm not subbing in yogurt.  Given the size of this salad, I'm really not making a ton of dressing for it; I'm ok with keeping the mayo in.  That's not to say you couldn't do a healthy swap if you wanted to though!  If you'd like to cut a few corners so you don't feel guilty going back for seconds, I'd recommend about a 1/2-2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt and then 2-3 tbsp mayo so you still get that mayonnaise flavor.
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