Two-Ways Tuna Salad


Using high-quality ingredients, tuna salad can be a gourmet treat. Really! Here are two ways to enjoy it, including some variations.


One is traditional, one novel. The traditional is an open-faced sandwich, or tartine, using lightly toasted rustic bread. The second is tuna salad rolled in strips of roasted red bell pepper drizzled with olive oil, Mediterranean style.


My love of a good tuna salad was born long ago. Thirty years ago, I lived in New Mexico. Shortly before I moved to the east coast, my last meal was at Carlos’ Gospel Café in Santa Fe with my friend EK. I had a tuna sandwich on whole grain bread (I have good food memory, what can I say?). I remembered it because it included chopped pecans, which I found unusual.


I think a lot people’s memories of tuna salad conjure thoughts of soggy, overly mayonnaise’d sea-foody slop. That’s unfortunate. In this simple recipe, I’ve suggested only enough mayonnaise and mustard to “just” hold the salad together.


In a few of my other recipes, I recommend using tuna fillets in jars (not cans) packed in olive oil. This is very different than canned tuna packed in water, which can be dry and “fishy.”  I encourage you to upgrade, and then you, too, might join the choir and sing the praises of tuna salad!



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Two-Ways Tuna Salad


  • 1 200 gram jar of tuna fillets packed in olive oil, drained
  • If doing the red bell pepper version, two large red bell peppers, roasted at 400 F (200C) for 30 minutes, then peeled and sliced into 4 long strips each). See my recipe for Mediterranean roasted bell peppers for further directions
  • If doing the tartine version (open faced sandwich), 2 slices rustic bread, toasted. (See my recipe for Nearly No Knead Bread)
  • Two tablespoons mayonnaise (see my recipe for simple, one-step mayonnaise)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped celery* (about one large stalk)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions* or yellow or white onion
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest and juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil to drizzle over (red pepper version, only)

*Alternatives to consider:

  • Swap out the celery for finely chopped pecans or other nuts
  • Swap out the celery for one large grated carrot or a couple of finely diced radishes
  • Swap out the scallions or onions for finely chopped pickles (see my recipe for Pickled cucumber variations)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400F (200C) if doing the red pepper version. Roast the peppers for 30 minutes on a rack. Once out of the oven, place them in a bag for 10 minutes, and then peel, de-seed and slice each pepper into four equal pieces lengthwise)
  2. Drain oil from tuna
  3. In a bowl, mix all remaining ingredients (except red peppers or bread slices)
  4. If doing red pepper version, place a heaping tablespoon of tuna salad on the end of each pepper slice and roll. Once you’ve rolled them all, drizzle a little olive oil over them
  5. If doing the tartine version, toast bread and divide the tuna salad equally over each slice.

Author: gregnelsoncooks

Visit weekly for original and adapted recipes as well as cooking tips to make your kitchen life easier — and more delicious! I’ll include simple, straight forward instructions along with recipes that are truly worth your time making. And, recipes that elevate the familiar and introduce you to the new and unexpected.

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