Mediterranean Tuna Salad
Stir together this mayonnaise-free Mediterranean tuna salad for lunch in just 10 minutes. It’s loaded with incredible flavor from fresh scallion, basil, olives and roasted red peppers. This recipe is naturally gluten-free, paleo and low-carb.
I originally shared this recipe on May 10th, 2016. I have updated the text and photos today.
Table of contents
Why We Love Mediterranean Tuna Salad
I love tuna salad and eat it once a week. Canned tuna is rich in Omega 3’s and it is a convenient source of protein so it can be a healthy part of your diet.
I especially love it when I combine tuna with loads of Mediterranean flavors like fresh basil, olives and lemon. You can make it into a sandwich or serve it on bib lettuce for a lower-carb and grain-free lunch.
Love high-protein lunch ideas? Try our Healthy Egg Salad too! It is creamy and delicious but lower in calories.
Ingredient Notes For This Recipe
Note: This recipe uses one can of tuna and makes two small or one large portion. It can be doubled!
For tuna recipes, I recommend sustainable canned Troll or Pole Caught Pacific Skipjack tuna because it is lower in mercury and a safe choice for sustainable fishing practices.
As with all seafood, it is a great idea to check with the latest information on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list before you shop. The Monterey Bay folks right now say that pole and troll caught Pacific Albacore and Pacific Skipjack are the way to go. But you have to be careful that this is the case and to not buy if you aren’t sure that it is on the green or yellow list due to severe overfishing in parts of the world.
Though I grew up eating solid white canned tuna, and used to prefer it for tuna salad recipes, now I have gotten used to “light.” And I don’t mind the stronger taste of the “light” varieties.
Roasted Red Pepper
To add veggies to this low carb recipe we added in jarred roasted red bell peppers, but you could also use fresh bell peppers or jarred pimentos. Drain and chop them.
Lemon Juice and Olive Oil
If you do not like mayonnaise, then this is the tuna salad for you! The “dressing” is made with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. It gives it a great bright Mediterranean flavor. You can sub in red wine vinegar instead of the lemon juice.
To give this salad a lot of pep and more fresh vegetables, I added in fresh chopped green onions. You can also use finely chopped red onion instead.
I always love celery in my tuna salad and it adds great crunch and volume to this recipe too. Slice it lengthwise then crosswise into small dices.
I bought pre-pitted and sliced Kalamata olives for this recipe, but any Italian or Greek black olive will do.
If you buy whole olives with the pit, press them into the cutting board with the side of a chef’s knife to make it easier to remove the pits. Then chop lightly to leave the pieces large.
The taste of the fresh basil in this recipe is my favorite part! If you do not have any, you can omit it, but do not substitute dried basil wich has an entirely different flavor. Instead you could add a tablespoon of chopped fresh oregano or dill. Or a teaspoon dried oregano or dill.
How To Make This Recipe For Mediterranean Tuna Salad
Step 1. Drain the tuna, empty the can (or cans if doubling) into a large bowl. Break it up with a fork into small chunks.
Step 2. Drizzle with lemon, olive oil and pepper and salt. Toss to coat with the dressing.
Step 3. Toss the tuna with the scallion, celery, red pepper and basil.
Step 4. Lay butter lettuce on the plates and top with the tuna, dividing evenly.
Expert Tips and FAQs For This Recipe
What About Mercury in Tuna:
Many people are scared to eat canned tuna because of high levels of mercury. Learn more about the tuna recommendations here from the environmental defense fund.
Generally speaking when selecting which kind of tuna to buy note that lower mercury options will generally be the “Light” varieties, like chunk light tuna, not the “White.” Albacore tuna (white) is higher in mercury, which has to do with the fact that they are big fish that bio-accumulate mercury by eating smaller fish.
Note that Wild Harvest albacore has lower levels than most canned albacore because they catch younger fish which have not accumulated as much mercury.
Also keep in mind that kids need to limit the amount of canned tuna to a serving of light tuna once a week (that’s for kids over the age of 6.)
Yes! You can make the tuna salad up to 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container. The basil will wilt slightly but will still taste great and is a great meal prep option for work the next day. Top the lettuce with the tuna just before serving.
Yes! Canned salmon with the bones and skins is a great alternative to canned tuna. Usually canned salmon comes in slightly larger cans than tuna. For simplicity sake sub one 6 ounce can of salmon per 5 oz can of tuna.
Absolutely! Simply double the ingredients to make four small or two large servings. (Note nutritional info below is based on two servings per can of tuna.)
Ways To Serve This Tuna Salad
- You can add this salad to pita pockets or wrap in lavash or use a whole-wheat wrap for a heartier main course or lunch. Add in a lettuce leaf or two and sliced tomatoes for more veggie servings.
- Just like classic tuna salad this Mediterranean tuna is great for sandwiches. We love it with classic sourdough.
- For a lunch platter serve with crunchy vegetables like cucumbers or carrot sticks
Variations To Try
- Add in a little dried oregano (or fresh!)
- Crumble in a little bit of feta cheese for additional savory goodness
- We are not shy about how much we love briny capers paired with seafood and we think they would be amazing in this tuna salad
- Add a little more lemon flavor with lemon zest
- To make it creamier, try a little plain Greek Yogurt mixed into the tuna mixture
- Make this healthy Mediterranean tuna salad recipe heartier by adding a can of drained white beans, garbanzo beans or chickpeas. Simply stir it them with the rest of the ingredients
More Lunches and Mediterranean Inspired Dishes
- This Chimichurri Chicken Salad and this Healthy Waldorf Chicken Salad are both low in calories.
- Try this Vegan “tuna” Salad made with Chickpeas for Meatless Monday.
- This recipe for Mediterranean Quinoa Salad is another one of our healthy recipes that make a great lunch!
- This Mexican Chicken Salad with Avocado is creamy and a little spicy and served in lettuce cups!
- My recipe for Sesame Chicken Lettuce Wraps has a sweet and savory Asian flair and makes a great fast dinner or lunch.
- These Salmon Cakes with Lemon and Capers are a fan favorite too!
- This Tuna Cucumber Salad recipe is also a good lower carb option.
Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!
Happy Cooking! ~KatiePrint
Turn canned light tuna into a flavorful meal in just 10 minutes. This is a no-mayo tuna salad with Mediterranean flavors including black olives, roasted red peppers, basil and lemon.
1 can sustainable light tuna packed in water, with salt, drained
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 scallion minced
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup minced roasted red pepper
2 tablespoons chopped olives
1 tablespoon chopped basil
4 leaves butterhead lettuce, washed and dried
- Mash tuna in a medium bowl.
- Add lemon juice, oil, pepper and salt and toss to coat.
- Add scallion, celery, red pepper, olives and basil and stir to combine.
- Divide lettuce leaves between two plates. Top with the tuna salad and serve.
You can substitute 1 6 ounce drained can salmon instead of tuna.
The tuna salad can be made up to 1 day ahead. Top the lettuce with the tuna just before serving.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Main Course
- Method: No Cook
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
- Serving Size: 2 pieces lettuce and about 3/4 cup tuna salad
- Calories: 260
- Sugar: 2 g
- Sodium: 286 mg
- Fat: 21 g
- Saturated Fat: 3 g
- Carbohydrates: 4 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 24 g
Keywords: tuna salad, mediterranean tuna salad,tuna salad without mayonnaise