This lightened up and mayo-free Mediterranean tuna salad will elevate your lunch game to the next level! The bright flavors of capers, roasted red peppers, cucumber and shallots bring this salad to life while tuna and chickpeas add the protein you need to fuel you through your day.
Why this healthy tuna salad is great for lunch
When it comes to lunch time, I find it hard to find a good balance. I’m either completely rushed and grabbing something on the go that’s less than healthy, or I’m indulging in something over the top that leaves me feeling stuffed and sluggish. I have challenged myself to come up with healthy lunch options that fit the following criteria and this recipe checks all the boxes.
- Lunch that can be meal prepped and made in advance so I’m not making decisions about what to eat on the fly.
- A healthy-ish option that is full of bold flavors so it doesn’t feel like diet food. I want to look forward to eating it!
- Full of protein to keep me fueled throughout the day.
- Easily customizable so I can utilize what I have on hand in my fridge and pantry.
- Can be enjoyed hot or cold.
Tuna salad ingredients and substitutions
While I think this recipe is pretty perfect as it is, there’s lots of different ways you can customize it to fit your own tastebuds or what you have on hand! Try these ideas to switch it up:
- Tuna-The best option when it comes to canned tuna is to find the kind that is packed in olive oil to yield the best flavor. If you can’t find this, make sure to grab a can that says “no salt added” so you can control the salt content yourself
- Chickpeas-These add even more protein to the salad and some nice creaminess. White beans make a great substitution.
- Arugula-I always have arugula on hand because it’s my favorite! However, spinach, kale, watercress or even spring greens would be excellent. Or, serve it in a romaine leaf to make a lettuce wrap out of it!
- Capers-If you don’t have capers or don’t enjoy their intense briny flavor, pickles or green olives are a delicious option.
- Roasted red peppers-These are a great pantry staple but tomatoes or artichoke hearts make for a great variation.
- Shallot-I love the sharp bite of shallot but red onion is an easy substitute in a pinch.
- Cucumber-I love the fresh crunch of cucumber in this tuna salad but feel free to leave it out!
Ways to dress up your tuna salad
I’m all for finding fun ways to dress up something as simple as tuna salad. If you meal prep this recipe, then I highly suggest finding ways to switch it up each day so you don’t get tired of eating the same thing.
- Try topping with a little feta cheese or parmesan shavings
- Add a dollop of hummus on top and a few triangles of pita bread, or tuck it into a pita pocket!
- I love this garlicky lemon dressing but this is another great lemon chive vinaigrette.
- Fresh herbs make a great addition! Try a handful of chopped parsley, dill or chives.
- Stuff this tuna inside a hollowed out tomato, halved avocado or romaine leaf.
Meal prepping this recipe for a healthy lunch
The thing I love most about this healthy tuna salad is that you can meal prep it in advance and the flavors just get better and better! Lately, I’ve been loving these metal bento box style containers. They have a nice, tight seal to prevent any leaks. Plus, the extra compartments keep other items, like pita bread, from getting soggy from the salad. They’re especially great for kids lunches too!
Mediterranean Tuna Salad with Lemon Garlic Dressing
- 1 can tuna packed in olive oil, drained
- 1 14oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
- 4 cups loosely packed fresh arugula or greens
- 3/4 cup roasted red peppers, diced
- 3/4 cup cucumber, diced
- 1/4 cup capers
- 1/4 cup minced shallot or red onion
Lemon Garlic Dressing
- 1 whole lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp white sugar
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- In a jar, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, minced garlic, 1 tsp dijon, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp sugar, pinch of red pepper flakes and 1/3 cup olive oil. Shake well.
- In a bowl, combine the tuna, chickpeas, arugula, roasted red peppers, cucumber, capers, and shallot. Drizzle on the lemon garlic vinaigrette and toss well.