Mediterranean Tuna Salad Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Total Time
Prep/Total Time: 25 min.
If you think tuna salad means lots of mayonnaise, think again! Our Mediterranean tuna salad recipe mixes protein-packed canned tuna, chickpeas, veggies and vinaigrette into a colorful, healthy, never-boring salad or sandwich topper.

Updated: May 28, 2024

Are you in a rut of sad desk lunches, making the same old sandwich recipe over and over, or settling for a mix of snack foods from the pantry? This simple Mediterranean tuna salad recipe is here to rescue you.

Luckily, this isn’t your everyday canned tuna recipe. It’s a quick tuna salad without mayo, calling instead for a lively balsamic vinaigrette and a bevy of fresh veggies that transform a humble can of tuna into a flavorful, exciting, healthy lunch. After all, tuna is a superfood, rich in protein and omega-3s.

This Mediterranean tuna salad works as a speedy lunch or light dinner. Serve it on top of your favorite salad greens, pile it onto a sandwich or toss it into leftover pasta.

Mediterranean Tuna Salad Ingredients

  • Tuna: This recipe calls for white albacore packed in water, which came first in our taste test for the best canned tuna. Albacore is a high-quality tuna with a mild flavor and meaty texture, and it comes in large, firm pieces. Water-packed tuna has a mild, light taste. If you use an oil-packed tuna, reduce the added oil. You can use other types of tuna, including skipjack, a softer fish with a more intense flavor. It’s often sold in canned chunks, labeled “chunk light.” Other tunas include bigeye, tongol and yellowfin.
  • Chickpeas: Also known as “garbanzo beans,” chickpeas are firm, mild, savory beans packed with protein. In this salad, the beans add a contrasting chew against the crunchier elements. A can of chickpeas will do the trick, but you can also cook dried beans from scratch. White beans, such as great northern beans, would taste great instead of chickpeas.
  • Vegetables: Chopped vegetables add a pleasant crunch, plus varied colors and vitamins. We like to use some sweet vegetables like crunchy peppers as well as minced green onions. Feel free to use whatever veggies you have on hand.
  • Homemade vinaigrette: While many tuna salads call for mayonnaise, this is dressed with a simple homemade vinaigrette instead. Simply whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar and mustard, and add a dash of salt, pepper and dried basil. You can also sub in one of the best salad dressing picks from the store if you’re in a rush.
  • Lettuce: Shredded lettuce adds a fresh, cool crunch to every bite of this tuna salad. Use any type of lettuce you like, whether it’s iceberg, romaine, baby spinach or heartier greens like shredded kale.
  • Feta cheese: Crumbles of salty, rich feta cheese dot this tuna salad, offering up tiny bursts of savory flavor. You may use blue cheese instead for a more funky-tasting garnish. Or, omit the cheese altogether.

Directions

Step 1: Mix the veggies and beans

Combine the chickpeas, celery, red pepper and green onions in a large bowlTMB Studio

In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, celery, red pepper and green onions.

Step 2: Add the dressing

Whisk the oil, vinegar, mustard, basil, salt and pepper in a small bowlTMB Studio

In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, mustard, basil, salt and pepper. Pour over the bean mixture, and toss to coat.

Step 3: Add the tuna

Gently stir in the tuna in the mixtureTMB Studio

Gently stir in the tuna. Serve the tuna salad over lettuce. Sprinkle with cheese if desired.

Editor’s Tip: Leave the tuna in larger chunks, or break it apart if you prefer a smoother-textured tuna salad.

Vibrant bowl of Mediterranean Tuna Salad with chicken, peppers, and cheese with forkTMB Studio

Mediterranean Tuna Salad Variations

  • Make it a wrap or sandwich: Want a heartier lunch or one you can take on the go? Serve the tuna salad on your favorite sandwich bread, or wrap it up in tortillas for easy sandwich wraps.
  • Add olives or capers: Stir chopped olives or capers into the tuna salad to add a puckery punch of acidic flavor. Minced pickles or cornichons would be tasty, too.
  • Change up the veggies: Almost any veggie in your crisper drawer will taste great in this salad, whether carrots, chives, tomatoes, shredded cabbage or broccoli. You can even add cooked vegetables like leftover roasted potatoes or grilled asparagus.
  • Add fresh herbs: A scattering of fresh herbs would enliven the tuna salad’s fresh flavor. Soft, tender green herbs, like basil, parsley or dill, will be best.
  • Up the heat: Love spicy food? Add a chopped jalapeno to the veggies, or whisk a dash of cayenne into the dressing.

How to Store Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Leftover tuna salad should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three to four days. It’s best to store the tuna mixture separately from the lettuce, which will quickly wilt if stored alongside the tuna.

Can you make Mediterranean tuna salad ahead of time?

If you want to make Mediterranean tuna salad in advance, prepare the bean and vegetable mix and vinaigrette, then store in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble the salad. The vinaigrette will keep for up to a week, while the bean and vegetable mixture will last for up to four days.

Mediterranean Tuna Salad Tips

Mediterranean Tuna Salad served in a bowl with forkTMB Studio

How do you serve Mediterranean tuna salad?

This tuna is very versatile! Serve it atop a bed of lettuce greens, as suggested in the recipe, for a quick, healthy lunch. It also makes a delicious filling for sandwiches or wraps. You can even serve the tuna salad folded up in a large lettuce leaf for a lettuce wrap. Mediterranean tuna can also be a yummy pasta topping. Toss freshly cooked noodles into the prepared tuna salad, or serve the tuna salad on leftover cold noodles for an easy pasta salad recipe.

How do you fold a tuna wrap?

The easiest way to fold a tuna wrap is jelly-roll style: Spread the tuna salad out in a thin layer across a tortilla, and carefully roll it up, ensuring an even distribution of tuna throughout the wrap. You can also do a fold like a burrito: Mound the tuna in the middle of the wrap, then fold the bottom and top edges of the wrap inward. Then, fold over the side edges. This lets you use a heartier portion of filling.

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Prep Time 25 min
Yield 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cans (5 ounces each) albacore white tuna in water
  • 4 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta or blue cheese, optional

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the beans, celery, red pepper and green onions. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, mustard, basil, salt and pepper. Pour over bean mixture; toss to coat. Gently stir in tuna.
  2. Serve over lettuce. Sprinkle with cheese if desired.

Nutrition Facts

1-1/2 cups: 282 calories, 11g fat (2g saturated fat), 30mg cholesterol, 682mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 6g fiber), 23g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 fat.

In spite of a long list of ingredients, this tuna salad is very quick to prepare. You'll love the fresh flavors. —Renee Nash, Snoqualmie, Washington
Recipe Creator