Pasta salad with tuna is one of the best Italian summer dishes. Made with simple ingredients this pasta salad without mayo is truly delicious
Italian cold pasta salad with tuna is a real artistic painting with a Mediterranean character. It’s so bright, fresh, colorful, and summery! Made with juicy tomatoes, tender yet rich in taste tuna, sweet corn, black olives, fresh basil, and of course PASTA, which perfectly balances the taste of all other ingredients.
Pasta fredda (that’s what the Italians call this traditional light salad) is my family’s favorite summer dish. Nobody wants hearty food, hot soups, or stews on hot days, while a bowl of a healthy tuna pasta salad without mayo is just what you need… well, a glass of cool wine and ice cream for dessert will be great as well.
This easy recipe for pasta salad with tuna is perfect for barbeques, potlucks, summer parties, light summer lunches, or dinners. It’s also a great side dish. Make pasta fredda in advance and use it for busy weekdays.
Do you know why I love this recipe? Of course, for its unsurpassed result. But not only that… Italians know how to relax and enjoy life, while not denying themselves tasty food. Most local dishes are quick and easy to make. Actually, you need a few simple ingredients and no more than 10 minutes to make this delicious pasta salad recipe!
Useful tips for the best pasta salad with tuna
- Boil pasta “al dente” – for Italians, it’s the ideal level of pasta readiness, when it’s already cooked, but still quite firm to the bite. This light firmness of pasta is what you need to make an authentic traditional Italian salad with pasta. Rinse the boiled rotini immediately under cold running water – this will remove the unnecessary sticky layer of starch that forms after boiling. Remember: nothing can spoil this Italian summer recipe like overcooked mushy macaroni or fusilli that have started to stick together and lose its shape.
- No mayo! Save it for other recipes. A truly authentic Italian pasta fredda is a light summer dish. The best dressing here is pesto sauce or olive oil.
- Prepare this pasta salad with tuna at least 30 minutes before serving. The flavors get much better as it sits.
- Our taste buds are susceptible to temperature. The same food served cold has less flavor than the same food served hot. Therefore, I recommend testing cold tuna pasta salad at serving temperature and adjusting the salt if needed.
Variations to this recipe
This healthy pasta salad with tuna easily adapts to your preferences. Therefore you can change the ingredients to your taste:
- Don’t like canned tuna? This is not a problem at all! Smoked salmon will come to your rescue.
- If you don’t like fish at all, then prepare a version with cheese. In the list of ingredients for this recipe, replace the tuna with Mozzarella or Feta cheese (you will have an Italian pasta salad with a Greek twist). Add ham or salami (cut into small cubes). Cheese and ham are a great combination.
- Sun-dried tomatoes and marinated artichoke hearts will give you a new gastronomic experience.
- Chickpeas will make the dish even healthier.
I like to combine black and green olives in this recipe for pasta salad with tuna. Stuffed olives are also perfect.
- 150g (5oz) tomatoes (you can add red and yellow tomatoes together for more color and flavor)
- 300g (10oz) pasta (I always use rotini, but any of your choice will be suitable, except for long formats such as spaghetti and tagliatelle). You can use gluten-free or whole wheat pasta too. Only be sure to follow the cooking instructions
- 100g (4oz) canned tuna (both canned tuna in oil and canned tuna in water will work here)
- 10-20 leaves of fresh basil
- 100g (4oz) black olives
- 100g (4oz) canned sweet corn
- 200g (2/3cup) pesto sauce
- 2-3Tbsp olive oil
How to make healthy tuna pasta salad without mayo
There are different recipes for salads with pasta. Having tried many options, this recipe is the best for me and I have followed it consistently for over 10 years.
Cook rotini in salted water until they are “al dente” (firm to the bite). I usually cook them 2 minutes less than the time indicated on the package. Then drain them and rinse them under cold running water
At this point, add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, Pesto sauce, mix well and let it cool
Chop the basil leaves (I always tear them into small pieces with my hands) and add to the pasta
Cut the tomatoes into medium-sized pieces and put them in a large salad bowl
Now add canned tuna (together with its oil) and olives to the tomatoes (cut each olive into rings)
Add canned sweetcorn
Add the rotini with pesto and basil and mix everything well.
Healthy pasta salad with tuna and pesto sauce is ready. Buon appetito!
This cold tuna pasta salad tastes heavenly fresh. But the next day it tastes even better. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
I often make this dish with fusilli (spiral-shaped pasta) or rotini noodles. But any type of bite-sized pasta will do: penne, farfalle (butterflies or bow ties), elbow macaroni…
What are your favorite summer dishes? I hope this Italian pasta salad with tuna will complement your culinary collection and your whole family will enjoy it.
Do you like Italian summer dishes? Then you should try:
Tried this recipe? Please leave a comment with Star Ratings ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. I will really appreciate it.
Also, please Subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK and PINTEREST.
Healthy cold pasta salad with tuna (without mayo)
- 5 oz (150g) tomatoes (you can add red and yellow tomatoes together for more color and flavor)
- 10 oz (300g) pasta (any of your choice will be suitable, except for long formats such as spaghetti and tagliatelle) (I always use rotini, but any of your choice will be suitable, except for long formats such as spaghetti and tagliatelle). You can use gluten-free or whole wheat pasta too. Only be sure to follow the cooking instructions
- 4 oz (100g) canned tuna (both canned tuna in oil and canned tuna in water will work here)
- 10-20 leaves of fresh basil
- 4 oz (100g) black olives
- 4 oz (100g) canned sweet corn
- ⅔ cup (200g) pesto sauce
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- Cook rotini in salted water until they are "al dente" (firm to the bite). I usually cook them 2 minutes less than the time indicated on the package. Then drain them and rinse them under cold running water
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, Pesto sauce, mix well and let it cool
- Chop the basil leaves (I always tear them into small pieces with my hands) and add to the pasta
- Cut the tomatoes into medium-sized pieces and put them in a large salad bowl
- Add canned tuna (together with its oil) and olives to the tomatoes (cut each olive into rings)
- Add canned sweetcorn
- Add the pasta with pesto and basil and mix everything well.
Leave a Reply