Bowtie pasta, fresh veggies, sliced basil & lots of feta cheese all tossed in a bright & refreshing lemon-dijon vinaigrette! This Tuscan tuna pasta salad is a healthy protein-packed meal everyone will love!
I’ve always had a thing for pasta salads and LOVE finding new recipes to try. This was the first time I used canned tuna in a pasta salad and now I’m hooked! (No pun intended!😉) The flavors paired perfectly, there’s so many textures… it all just worked! Plus it was so easy to put together too! This would be such a great Spring pasta salad recipe!
Ingredients For Your Tuna Pasta Salad
- Pasta: Any type of short pasta works for this recipe. Farfalle (bowtie), rotini or gemelli pasta are all great options!
- Canned tuna: Try leaving your tuna in larger chunks so it doesn’t get lost in your salad! (We prefer using albacore tuna for ours. It has a firmer textue that holds up well to the rest of your ingredients.)
- Tomatoes: We love using fresh cherry tomatoes for this pasta salad! They’re so flavorful and only need to be halved so there’s not much cutting involved.
- Sun-dried tomatoes: Use jarred sun-dried tomatoes in oil for the best results. (They’re much more flavorful and retain their oisture better than the “dried out” sun-dried tomatoes in bag.)
- Canned artichokes: Use canned artichoke hearts or quarters in brine not marinated artichokes. (Marinated artichokes will make your pasta salad too oily!)
- Spinach: Regular or baby spinach can be sued for this recipe!
- Onion: Red onion works the best because it’s slightly sweet and pairs well with the rest of your ingredients. (It also adds a little extra color too!😉)
- Feta cheese: Always buy a block of feta and crumble it yourself! (Block feta has much better flavor than store bought feta crumbles.)
- Fresh basil: Adding fresh herbs can really elevate your pasta salads! Feel free to add as little or as much basil and you want!
- Lemon-dijon vinaigrette: A simple 6 ingredient dressing that’s bright and refreshing and ties all your salad ingredints together! You’ll need olive oil, lemons, garlic, dijon mustard, salt and cracked black pepper.
How To Make Tuscan Tuna Pasta Salad
1. Make your vinaigrette. Whisk your oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, garlic, salt and pepper together in a bowl or small jar. Then cover it and keep it stored in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of your pasta salad.
2. Cook the pasta. Boil your pasta according to the package’s directions. Then drain it and set it aside to cool completely before adding it to your salad.
3. Prepare your salad ingredients. While the pasta cools, cut your remaining ingredients and add them to a large bowl.
4. Toss & serve! Once the pasta is cool, add it to the bowl with the rest of your ingredients and pour your desired amount of vinaigrette over the top. Toss the salad until it’s coated to your liking then serve immediately with extra feta cheese sprinkled over the top. (Alternatively you can keep the salad chilled it in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before serving.)
Because this pasta salad is so light and refreshing, it’d be perfect for a healthy Spring meal! You can take it to potlucks, picnics or even prep it for lunches during the week!
- Can I make this pasta salad ahead of time? Yes! This pasta salad can be made at least 24 hours in advance. (Just keep in mind that your pasta will absorb some of the vinaigrette while it sits. You may want to consider making the salad the day before and not adding the dressing until right before serving.)
- Can I use a different type of tuna? Yes! Skipjack tuna would also work!
- I’m not a big fan of tuna. Is there a different type of protein I can use? Yes absolutely! Shredded chicken would be a fantastic replacement or chickpeas can be used for a vegetarian option too.
Why you’ll love this tuna pasta salad recipe!
- A healthy pasta salad! Most tuna pasta salads call for thick dressings made with lots of mayo – not this one! We’ve swapped out the dressing for a simple lemon vinaigrette & loaded it up with veggies!
- Lots of flavor! 2 types of tomatoes, salty feta, flaky tuna chunks, fresh basil & a bright lemony dressing to tie it all together!
- Easy to make ahead! Mix your pasta salad ingredients together the day before then toss it with your dressing right before serving! It’s such an easy Spring dinner idea!
Need it gluten free?! Use your favorite gluten free pasta instead!
Need it dairy free?! Omit the feta cheese or replace it with your favorite dairy free grated parmesan!
More pasta salad recipes you might like:
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Tuscan Tuna Pasta Salad
For the pasta salad:
- 1 lb. bowtie pasta (or your favorite short pasta)
- 2 (5oz.) cans albacore tuna, drained & mashed
- 2 cups fresh cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 1 (14oz.) can of artichoke quarters, chopped
- 1-2 handfuls of baby spinach
- ⅓ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
- ¼ of a red onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup fresh basil, sliced
- Cracked black pepper, to taste
For the lemon-dijon vinaigrette:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ tsp salt
- Cracked black pepper, to taste
To make the lemon-dijon vinaigrette:
- Whisk your vinaigrette ingredients together in a bowl or jar. Then keep it stored in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of your pasta salad.
To make the pasta salad:
- Boil your pasta according to the package's directions. Then drain it and set it aside to cool completely.
- Once the pasta is cool, add it to a large bowl with your mashed tuna, cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped artichokes, spinach, red onion, basil and feta cheese.
- Then pour your desired amount of vinaigrette over the top and toss until the salad is fully coated.
- Serve with freshly cracked pepper sprinkled over the top. (Or cover the salad and let it chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before serving.)