Tuna Pasta Shell Salad

pasta tuna salad 001

When its just too hot to eat heavy hot meals this pasta salad with tuna is the perfect alternative.  Its light with lots of fresh veggies, olives, eggs and a citrus vinaigrette.  Easy on calories, definitely filling, and all you need is crusty rolls or a baguette, a glass of wine and a slice of watermelon for dessert

This recipe is from the late 1960’s when I was a newly wed and living in Spokane, Washington.   It started out as a potato salad with pasta instead of potatoes, a mayonnaise dressing with mustard and dill pickles, a can of tuna, onions and radishes.  Even in those days no one complained and there was never any leftovers.  That was quite a compliment considering some of my cooking disasters.  I loved to bake and can fruit but hadn’t had a lot of experience cooking dinners way back then.

Over the years, this dish has taken on new dimensions as I’ve added more veggies, olives, roasted red peppers, even artichoke hearts and switched to a vinaigrette instead of the calorie laden mayonnaise.  This main dish salad can be made with shrimp, lump crab, poached salmon, roasted chicken or even ham. 

Any size pasta shells will do or try it with your favorite type of pasta.  Just a cup and a half of pasta will make 4 ample servings, very economical, and quick to prepare.  Prep all the veggies and whip up the vinaigrette while the pasta and eggs cook.   The pasta will absorb less oil if rinsed in cold water before assembling salad. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups small pasta shells
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced or chopped
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk celery with leaves, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 5 or 6 red radishes, sliced
  • 1/2 carrot, julienned
  • handful of black ripe olives
  • handful of pimento stuffed green olives
  • 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 dashes of Tabasco sauce

Method:

  1. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil, add 1 tsp salt, pasta shells and eggs.
  2. Cook for 7 minutes until pasta is al dente.
  3. Drain pasta and rinse in cold water.  Run cold water over eggs and shell while holding eggs under water.
  4. Place pasta, eggs, diced veggies and olives in a large bowl.
  5. In a small bowl, pour lemon juice, olive oil, herbs, garlic salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce.  Whisk until well incorporated.  You may use a jar with a screw lid and shake vinaigrette vigorously.
  6. Pour over salad and toss.  Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
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