Learn how to make the best chilled tuna macaroni salad step by step! This creamy tuna pasta salad is the perfect mix of flaky tuna, tender macaroni, fresh veggies and creamy dressing! It’s a total crowd-pleaser that’s perfect for picnics, potlucks, barbecues and easy lunches!Recipe can be scaled up or down by using the slider if you hover your mouse over the number of Servings.
2TBS EACH: Chopped Fresh Dill & Chopped Flat-leaf Parsley , plus more for garnish (SEE NOTES)
2TBSFreshly Grated Parmesan – plus more for garnish
Coarse Sea Salt & Ground Black Pepper – to taste
For the Dressing:
2/3cupGreek Yogurt or Sour Cream(I used nonfat Greek Yogurt)
1/3cupGood-quality Mayonnaise(SEE NOTES)
1TBSFresh Lemon Juice
¼tspSweet Paprika – plus more for garnish
Boil pasta: Add 2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) of water to a large pot and bring water to a boil. Season water with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Add the pasta and cook for 1 minute PAST al dente according to package instructions. Drain pasta and rinse it with cold water to stop the pasta from cooking. Drain again and allow the pasta to cool. (SEE NOTES)
Mix the dressing: In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Season with 1 teaspoon of sea salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Whisk well to thoroughly combine.
Assemble pasta salad: In a large bowl, add the cooked and cooled pasta, tuna, celery, green onions, peas, red onion, dill, parsley and parmesan. Toss to combine.
Add dressing: Pour HALF of the dressing over the pasta mixture. Toss well to evenly coat. Taste the pasta salad and adjust for seasoning.
Refrigerate: Cover the pasta salad and the remaining dressing. Place both in the refrigerator and allow to chill for 2-3 hours, or until cold. (SEE NOTES)
Serve: Remove the salad from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for about 20 minutes to remove the chill. Just before serving, stir in the remaining dressing. Garnish with fresh dill, paprika and a sprinkle of parmesan. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Pasta: I use elbow macaroni. However, you can use small shells, bowtie, ditalini or your other favorite bite-size pasta!
Tuna: White albacore tuna packed in water is best for this pasta salad. Tuna packed in oil tends to make the salad too greasy and oily. If you are using a drained, ready-to-use tuna, you only need 8 ounces (instead of 10).
Peas: I suggest baby peas or baby sweet peas for this recipe. To defrost, simply run the frozen peas under cold water. Drain before using.
Herbs: You can use any combination of fresh herbs you like. Basil, cilantro and chervil are also wonderful options. Or, you can use a ¼ cup of just one herb.
Dressing: To ensure the dressing is heart healthy, make sure use avocado oil mayonnaise or olive oil mayonnaise! Also, you can also use a sugar substitute, such as honey, stevia or Swerve instead of granulated sugar! If you don't love the tangy flavor of Greek yogurt, you can substitute Sour Cream -OR- simply reduce the amount of Greek yogurt, using 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt and 1/2 cup Mayonnaise.
Cooking pasta: This may sound counterintuitive, but cook the pasta one to two minutes beyond the al dente stage! The pasta should be soft, but not mushy throughout! This is key, as once the pasta is shocked (rinsed with cold water), it will firm up and regain that perfect al dente texture!
To quickly cool pasta: Drain the cooked pasta and spread it out on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Spreading the pasta out in a thin, even layer will help it cool for quickly. You can place the baking pan with the pasta in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process even more.
Nutritional information is an approximation based upon 8 servings. Exact information will depend upon the brands of ingredients and precise measurements used.