Make the dressing for this Mediterranean chopped salad bowl with the olive oil in which the tuna was packed. (Photo by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post)

Make the dressing for this Mediterranean chopped salad bowl with the olive oil in which the tuna was packed. (Photo by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post)

Let canned tuna anchor this crunchy Mediterranean salad

This recipe’s single must-have ingredient is a high-quality jar or can of tuna packed in olive oil.

While making this salad for lunch recently, my umpteenth time over the years, it dawned on me that I should share it with you. I suppose I had not thought to do so before because it never seemed like a real recipe as much as a quick assembly of random on-hand ingredients. But there is a formula to this favorite meal, one that allows the result to take on many forms.

Its single must-have ingredient is a high-quality jar or can of tuna packed in olive oil. The brand I typically buy is a 7-ounce Italian import, which runs about $8. But before you balk at the price, consider the value: This one item provides plenty of premium fish for this salad for two, plus enough olive oil to dress it.

The big chunks of flaky fish get tossed with an assortment of crisp, colorful chopped vegetables, which is where the endless variations come in. The accompanying recipe represents a good sampling of the year-round basics: lettuce, bell peppers and cucumbers. But when I have leftover cooked vegetables — steamed broccoli, green beans, asparagus — they would get tossed in there as well (or instead), as might raw ingredients such as chopped tomato, radishes, kohlrabi, cabbage, celery and radicchio.

I always add a fresh, tender herb such as parsley or basil, and a sprinkle of dried oregano, which gives the salad an immediate Mediterranean vibe. And I also like to toss in a briny element such as olives, capers or even chopped pickles, depending on what I have that needs to get used up.

As I mentioned, the oil from the tuna creates the base for the dressing. All you need is an acid such as fresh lemon juice, or vinegar, plus salt and pepper to create a lovely vinaigrette, and presto! Lunch, or a light dinner, is served.

Mediterranean chopped salad bowl with tuna

3 cups chopped romaine hearts or Little Gem lettuce

½ medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (½ cup)

½ cup chopped English (seedless) cucumber or Persian cucumber

⅓ cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

¼ to ⅓ cup sliced pitted green olives (optional)

¼ cup chopped red onion

1 jar (7- to 8-ounces) tuna packed in olive oil, undrained (may substitute two 4- to 5-ounce cans)

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

⅛ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Toss together the lettuce, bell pepper, cucumber, parsley, olives, if using, and onion in a mixing bowl. Add the tuna, along with the oil it was packed in, then use a fork to break up the tuna a little.

Add the vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper; toss gently to incorporate.

Serve in individual bowls.

Makes 2 servings. Nutrition per serving: 200 calories, 27 grams protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 45 milligrams cholesterol, 600 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber, 4 grams sugar.

Talk to us

More in Life

This image provided by Higgins Design Studio shows an open Murphy bed. (Mentis Photography/Higgins Design Studio via AP)
Pandemic-era design solution from the past: the Murphy bed

The beds that emerge from a wall to instantly transform a living room into a bedroom date from more than a century ago.

R.J. Whitlow, co-owner of 5 Rights Brewery, has recently expanded to the neighboring shop, formerly Carr's Hardware. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
County craft breweries’ past lives: hardware store, jail

Most breweries in Snohomish County operate in spaces that formerly housed something far different — from boat builders to banks.

Red apples with leaves isolated over white background. Gala apple. Top view
Everything you never wanted to know about fruit tree pollination

If your trees are blooming and not setting fruit, the most likely culprit is poor pollination.

Cryptomeria japonica “Sekkan-sugi”
Great Plant Pick: Cryptomeria japonica “Sekkan-sugi”

If you love golden foliage, the golden Japanese cedar is for you. When planted against a dark green backdrop, it shines like a beacon.

Moving eyes add interest to an antique clock. This blinking-owl clock sold for $1,900 at a Morford's auction in 2021.
These antique clocks have shifty eyes that move with time

More modern moving-eye clocks include the Kit-Cat clock, a fixture in nurseries since 1932.

Heroes.jpg: Characters in the fantasy world in “She Kills Monsters” at Red Curtain Arts Center, running Jan. 28-Feb. 13, include (front row) Erin Smith as Lilith, Katelynn Carlson as Kaliope; (middle row) Marina Pierce as Tillius, Lucy Johnson as Agnes; (back row) Daniel Hanlon as Orcus.
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Dungeons & Dragons collides with reality in “She Kills Monsters” at Red Curtain Arts Center in Marysville.

Caption: Stay-at-home parents work up to 126 hours a week. Their labor is valuable even without a paycheck.
A mother’s time is not ‘free’ — and they put in 126-hour workweeks

If you were to pay a stay-at-home mom or dad for their time, it would cost nearly $200,000 a year.

Linda Miller Nicholson from Fall City, Washington, holds up rainbow pasta she just made in the commercial kitchen at her Fall City home, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021.  The rainbow wall behind her is in her backyard. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle TImes/TNS)
This King County woman’s rainbow pasta signals her values

Linda Miller Nicholson sculpts colorful noodles that reflect her personality and pro-LGBTQ+ pride.

CloZee performs during the second day of Summer Meltdown on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019 in Darrington, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The psychedelic fest Summer Meltdown is back — and in Monroe

The music and camping event is on for July 28-31, with a new venue along the Skykomish River.

Most Read