How To Make Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad
How To Cook Pasta for Salads
Cooking pasta for salads is not much different from cooking it for a pasta dish. Boil the water and generously salt it, make sure the salt is dissolved. Then add your pasta to the pot and cook it according to the instructions on the packet. Cook it al dente, make sure not to overcook it. The biggest difference is that you need to rinse the pasta after it’s cooked. Rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process and cool it down.
How To Prepare Arugula for Salads
If you got fresh arugula (in our tuna pasta salad we use arugula and baby spinach mix) it is important to thoroughly wash it. Arugula leaves can trap soil and grit. Immerse the leaves in cold water for a few seconds, and then lift them out, letting the grit settle at the bottom. Repeat as necessary. Dry the leaves thoroughly in a salad spinner or gently shake them in a kitchen towel.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Fusilli Pasta - There’re many different types of pasta, with its shape being the main variation. Fusilli pasta is shaped like little spirals, and for that reason, it’s the perfect type of pasta to hold on to rich and creamy sauces in salads, or any other dishes with a creamy thick sauce. You can use other types of pasta that are short and have plenty of nooks and crannies to trap the salad dressing. For example, you can choose to make this tuna pasta salad using farfalle, rotini, or penne pasta.
- Tuna - Canned tuna usually comes in spring water or oil. In this pasta salad recipe, we are using chunky tuna in olive oil. It adds an extra umami flavor to the salad, mixing wonderfully with the mayonnaise. If you are mindful of your calorie intake, you can choose to use tuna in spring water instead. It contains more protein and fewer calories compared to the oil-packed tuna.
- Arugula - this flavorful and feisty salad green is also known as “rocket”. It has an explosive, peppery, and nutty flavor that pairs well with grains, meats, and cheeses. Arugula is always our first choice for a pasta salad. It is very important to use fresh arugula. It might turn rather bitter and influence the overall taste.
- Extra-virgin Olive Oil - When it comes to salad dressing, extra-virgin olive oil is the best choice. It’s flavorful and can notably elevate the taste of the dressing.
- Rock Salt - the main difference between your regular table salt and rock salt is the size of its crystals and the color. Rock salt doesn’t contain any additives or iodine and is generally believed to be a better choice to enhance the flavor of your dishes. You can substitute it with Kosher salt that’s very similar to it.
- Mayonnaise - Mayo is a very controversial condiment. It is either loved or hated, there’s rarely a neutral opinion. In this tuna pasta recipe, mayonnaise is responsible for its smooth and creamy texture, and a nice tart-salt balance. We don’t recommend leaving it out, but you can take this salad to a whole different level if you make and use this Classic Mayonnaise from scratch.
Tips & Suggestions
- You can choose to experiment with fresh herbs to make your pasta salad more flavorful. Chives, dill, mint, basil, cilantro, and Italian parsley are the magic ingredients in a good pasta salad. You should add them close to serving time.
- It is important you add the olive oil and mix before you proceed to add the mayonnaise. The olive oil creates a barrier between the pasta and all the other ingredients, keeping your past from absorbing too much moisture and becoming too soggy.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Can I Keep Tuna Pasta Salad In the Fridge?
It is ok to store your tuna pasta salad in an airtight container refrigerated for up to 5 days. But it will slightly change its texture and flavor the longer it is stored. It is best served and eaten fresh. We don’t recommend making tuna pasta salad too far in advance either for the same reason. Best make it right before serving, or the night before if you absolutely have to.
Is There a Healthy Substitute to Mayo I can Use?
The best and healthiest substitution for mayonnaise is avocado. Thanks to their content of heart-healthy fats, avocados can be a great alternative to mayonnaise in salads and sandwiches. Greek yogurt-based dressing could be your other option if you like a more tangy sour taste.
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