The Tuna Salad Dilemma
Tuna Salad gets a bad rap. Kids and adults alike have felt the embarrassment of pulling a stinky fishy sandwich out for lunchtime. And we admit it -- the usual concoction of tuna, processed mayonnaise, and pungent onions leaves a lot to be desired.
The Benefits of Tuna Salad
There are redeeming qualities to tuna salad in the tuna, itself. Tuna is very high in essential heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids meaning it can reduce cholesterol and reduce your chances of getting heart disease. Sources of Omega-3’s also help reduce inflammation in the body making them a great addition to any healthy diet or detox program.
Tuna is high in vitamin C, zinc, and selenium -- antioxidants that fight free radicals and boost your immune system. Tuna Salad also contains high levels of protein that is essential for protecting your immune system. One can of tuna provides 40 grams of protein, making it an inexpensive way to reach your daily needs of this essential macronutrient.
Does Fresh Tuna Make a Better Salad?
In our recipe, we use fresh seared wild tuna. Fresh is always ideal, but consider that it may be easier to get wild caught fish in a can that your family can afford. Farmed fish whether canned or fresh contains more pollutants. If the choice is between a lower-quality fresh fish and a high-quality canned fish, go canned!
“It’s important to get your omega-3s, and one of the easiest and most affordable ways to do that is to go canned. You won’t be skimping on nutrition.” -- Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietitian and manager of nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.
Worried about mercury levels in canned tuna? Stick to canned light tuna or fresh wild tuna that we use in this recipe. Smaller fish contain less mercury so you may wish to replace the tuna in this salad with smaller fish like wild-caught sardines. Keep in mind, canned fish packed in oil will retain more of the essential Omega-3 fatty acids for your health benefits.
A Better Tuna Salad
It’s not what your mom made you-- it’s a fresh alternative to reap the benefits of heart-healthy tuna that won’t stink up your next office lunch hour.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
For the Salad:
- 1 large carrot
- 1 zucchini
- 8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 ripe avocado, pitted and quartered
- ½ cup pickled red onions
- a few handfuls of greens
For the Vinaigrette:
- juice of 1 lime
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaf
- pinch of sea salt
For the Tuna:
- 8 ounce fresh wild tuna
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
First prep your vegetables. Use a peeler to peel the carrot and zucchini in long, wide strips.
Place them in a bowl and set aside. For the vinaigrette, combine the lime juice, olive oil, salt, and cilantro.
Combine the spices and salt then lay on a plate. Dredge both sides of the tuna and push down gently to get a good coating of spices.
Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Melt the coconut oil then sear the tuna for 2-3 minutes on both sides. For best taste and texture, keep the tuna rare. Once it’s cooked, transfer to a cutting board and let it rest for a minute before cutting. Make ¼ inch thick slices against the grain.
Prepare the dish by dividing the greens onto two plates then mixing with the carrots, zucchini, tomato, and avocado slices. Fan out the tuna then top with the pickled onions. Top with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and serve.
Recipe by Frank Giglio
Photography by Lynn Karlin