This lightened up Mediterranean-inspired tuna salad without mayo 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 You’ll Love This Tuna Salad Without Mayo
When it comes to lunch time, it’s hard to find a good balance. Either you find yourself completely rushed and grabbing something on the go that’s less than healthy, or indulging in something over the top that leaves you feeling stuffed and sluggish.
We challenged ourselves to come up with healthy lunch options that fit the following criteria and this mayo-free tuna salad recipe checks all the boxes. You’ll love it because it’s:
- Meal prep friendly. The flavors get better with time to marinate!
- It takes just 10 minutes with no actual cooking necessary
- Packed with protein. Enjoy this healthy lunch option that doesn’t feel like diet food.
- Pescatarian, dairy free and gluten free friendly.
- Easily customizable. Just utilize what you have on hand in your fridge and pantry.
- Features an addictively delicious lemon garlic dressing that you’ll want to drizzle on all of your salads!
- Full of heart healthy Mediterranean flavors!
- Did we mention it’s basically the perfect picnic dish?
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Tuna-We like to use albacore tuna for it’s mild flavor. 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-We always have arugula on hand, however, spinach, kale, watercress or even spring greens would be an excellent swap. Or, serve it in a butter lettuce 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. Or you can dice up fresh red bell pepper for a little extra crunch.
- Shallot-We love the sharp bite of shallot but red onion is an easy substitute in a pinch.
- Cucumber-The fresh crunch of cucumber in this tuna salad really compliments the other flavors and textures but feel free to leave it out!
Step By Step Instructions
Combine tuna, shallot, capers, roasted red peppers, garbanzo beans and cucumber in a bowl.
Combine all the ingredients for the lemon garlic dressing in a container with a tight sealing lid.
Shake the container vigorously until the ingredients are well combined and emulsified.
Add arugula to your bowl of ingredients and toss together with all of the dressing.
How to Dress Up This Mediterranean Tuna Salad
We’re all for finding fun ways to dress up something as simple as tuna salad. Here’s a few ideas to switch things up and take your humble tuna salad to the next level!
- Try topping with a little feta cheese or parmesan shavings for a salty bite.
- Add a dollop of hummus on top and a few triangles of pita bread, or tuck it into a pita pocket for easy portability!
- A creamy balsamic vinaigrette would also be delicious.
- 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 for a veggie packed main dish.
- Serve this tuna salad mixture in butter lettuce cups instead of adding arugula for a portable snack.
- You can add all of the ingredients together, except for the lettuce, and it will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge. Pack the arugula or butter lettuce cups separately so that it doesn’t get soggy from the dressing and assemble just before eating.
- I recommend tossing the tuna mix with a little bit of the lemon garlic dressing to get it marinating in advance. Then, pack the rest of the dressing to add as much as you’d like when you’re ready to serve.
- For the best flavor and texture, use a high quality canned tuna. Since this recipe doesn’t involve any cooking, using high quality ingredients will make a huge difference in the end result.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you meal prep this recipe?
Absolutely! Just keep in mind any leafy greens will get soggy so we recommend waiting to add those until it’s time to serve.
How long will this tuna salad without mayo last in the fridge?
Technically, it will last up to 3-4 days in the fridge with no problems, especially if you leave out the greens like we recommend when meal prepping.
Which canned tuna do you recommend?
We look for anything that doesn’t have any additional salt added so that we can control our own salt levels. You can use a high quality tuna packed in olive oil but even a canned tuna packed in water is just fine. Look for line-caught albacore tuna. Try this American caught and canned option.
What’s the difference between solid and chunk tuna?
Chunk tuna is just smaller pieces of tuna, while solid tuna is larger pieces of the fish. For this recipe, chunk tuna works fine because we need small bite sized pieces to mix together with the other ingredients.
How often can you safely consume tuna?
Because of concern regarding Mercury levels, the FDA recommends no more than a 6 oz portion of albacore tuna per week, or 4 oz if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Other craveable lunch ideas
Tuna Salad Without Mayo
- 1 can tuna packed in olive oil, drained
- 1 14oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
- 4 cups loosely packed fresh arugula or butter lettuce cups
- 1 cup roasted red peppers, diced
- 1 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, roasted red peppers, cucumber, capers, and shallot. Drizzle on the lemon garlic vinaigrette and toss well. Stir in fresh arugula or serve in butter lettuce cups.