I can think of so many reasons to adore the lowly canned tuna fish: It’s affordable. It’s high in omega-3 fats (psst… those are the ones that are good for your heart, your mood and your skin). I love that I can store it in my cupboard until just when I need it. And it’s such a versatile ingredient. Plus, canned albacore tuna has low levels of mercury and is a sustainable choice if it’s labeled as troll- or pole-caught, from the U.S. or British Columbia. Another healthy choice is chunk light tuna, which comes from the smaller skipjack or yellowfin, and has less mercury than canned white albacore tuna. The FDA/EPA advises that women who are or might become pregnant, nursing mothers and young children consume no more than 6 ounces of albacore a week; up to 12 ounces of canned light tuna is considered safe.
So when I think of the injustice done by drenching the poor canned fish in so much heavy mayonnaise you need an ice cream scoop just to ladle it onto your sandwich, I feel like I need to have an intervention.
Step away from the mayo, folks! Adding just a few fresh and nutritious ingredients can elevate even the most humble can of tuna from pantry staple to an elegant, satisfying meal. Dress up your canned tuna in these healthy recipes from the EatingWell Test Kitchen:
1. Sandwich Wrap: Add White Beans, Cherry Tomatoes, Scallions and Lemon
Get the Recipe: Tuscan-Style Tuna Salad
This streamlined version of a northern Italian favorite is perfect for a summer evening: no-fuss, no-cook and big taste. You can even make it ahead and store it, covered, in the refrigerator for several days.
2. Antipasto Salad: Add Chickpeas, Chopped Veggies, Capers and Fresh Herbs
Get the Recipe: Mediterranean Tuna Antipasto Salad
Packed with protein and fiber, this tuna-and-bean salad is ready in a flash. Serve with warm crusty bread or pack it in a pita for a sandwich. For an extra kick, add a pinch of crushed red pepper or cayenne.
3. Dinner Salad: Add Green Beans, Potatoes, Eggs and Olives
Get the Recipe: Nouveau Nicoise
This quick, easy remake of the Provençal standard turns a couple cans of tuna into a main-course salad that’s just waiting for a glass of crisp Chardonnay.
4. Quick Dinner: Add Tomatoes, Pasta, Garlic and Parsley
Get the Recipe: Tuna Pomodoro
Inspired by the Italian dish spaghetti al tonno e pomodoro, this quick and healthy pasta is a staff favorite at EatingWell. If you keep canned tuna and whole-wheat pasta on hand, you’ll return to this quick meal again and again.
5. Casserole: Add Mushrooms, Peas, Pasta, Creamy Sauce and Breadcrumbs
Get the Recipe: Skillet Tuna Noodle Casserole
Known as Tuna-Pea Wiggle to some, this family-friendly tuna noodle casserole tends to be made with canned soup and whole milk, which means high fat and sodium. In this healthier EatingWell version, you make your own creamy mushroom sauce with nonfat milk thickened with a bit of flour.