5 Ingredients: Tuna Pasta Salad

by in 5-Ingredient Recipes, October 7, 2009

Tuna Pasta Salad
I’m always looking for new ways to take advantage of the healthy protein and omega-3 fats in tuna. My mom would bring home a tuna pasta salad from the deli when I was a kid, but it was loaded with fatty mayo. Here’s my lightened-up version made with five simple ingredients.

Ingredients:
8 ounces dry whole-grain elbow pasta (Barilla Plus recommended)
1 cup frozen green peas
5 ounces canned tuna, packed in water
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette

Whole-Grain Pasta
Whole-grain pasta makes this dish a satisfying meal. A serving has the same calories as regular pasta but higher amounts of protein, fiber and vitamins. Your options don’t end at whole wheat — try brown rice pasta or a multigrain pasta like Barilla Plus.

Frozen Peas
I keep frozen peas in my freezer at all times. They add flavor, texture and color to soups, rice and hot and cold pasta dishes. They’re low in calories, high in fiber and protein and also contain healthy doses of vitamins A, C, K and folate.

Cook pasta according to package directions and add frozen peas for the last 15 seconds of cooking; drain and set aside to cool slightly.

Canned Tuna
Canned tuna is an easy and affordable way to get some healthy protein and omega-3 fats. I use solid albacore tuna for this recipe because it’s firm and stands up to the other ingredients. Chunk light tuna is a popular alternative because it’s lower in mercury, but it’s also lower in omega-3s (and despite the name “light,” it has about the same amount of calories). Because this recipe only uses one can of tuna, the mercury count per serving stays very low.

Celery
Celery adds fresh flavor and crunch to this salad. I’ve also experimented with carrots and cucumber, but celery wins in my book — especially paired up with tuna. Celery’s in season right now so grab some on your next trip to the farmers’ market.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
Using vinaigrette instead of mayo means you’re getting healthy fat from vegetable oils (like olive and canola) instead of saturated fat and cholesterol. Make my quick vinaigrette recipe, or use your favorite store-bought brand. Just check labels carefully to avoid the ones loaded with added sugar. Newman’s Own and Annie’s are some good picks.

Combine pasta and peas in a large bowl with tuna, celery and balsamic vinaigrette. Season with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste; mix well to combine. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature. Enjoy this salad as is or pile it over mixed greens.

Nutrition Info:
Servings: 6 (1 cup per person)
Calories: 234
Fat: 8 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram
Protein: 13 grams
Carbohydrate: 28 grams
Sodium:191 milligrams
Cholesterol: 10 milligrams
Fiber: 4 grams

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