5 Ingredients: Tuna Pasta Salad

My mom would bring home a tuna pasta salad from the deli when I was a kid, but it was loaded with fatty mayo. Here’s my lightened-up version made with five simple ingredients.

I’m always looking for new ways to take advantage of the healthy protein and omega-3 fats in tuna. My mom would bring home a tuna pasta salad from the deli when I was a kid, but it was loaded with fatty mayo. Here’s my lightened-up version made with five simple ingredients.

8 ounces dry whole-grain elbow pasta (Barilla Plus recommended)
1 cup frozen green peas
5 ounces canned tuna, packed in water
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
Whole-Grain Pasta

Whole-grain pasta makes this dish a satisfying meal. A serving has the same calories as regular pasta but higher amounts of protein, fiber and vitamins. Your options don’t end at whole wheat -- try brown rice pasta or a multigrain pasta like Barilla Plus.

Frozen Peas

I keep frozen peas in my freezer at all times. They add flavor, texture and color to soups, rice and hot and cold pasta dishes. They’re low in calories, high in fiber and protein and also contain healthy doses of vitamins A, C, K and folate.

Cook pasta according to package directions and add frozen peas for the last 15 seconds of cooking; drain and set aside to cool slightly.

Canned Tuna

Canned tuna is an easy and affordable way to get some healthy protein and omega-3 fats. I use solid albacore tuna for this recipe because it’s firm and stands up to the other ingredients. Chunk light tuna is a popular alternative because it’s lower in mercury, but it’s also lower in omega-3s (and despite the name “light,” it has about the same amount of calories). Because this recipe only uses one can of tuna, the mercury count per serving stays very low.


Celery adds fresh flavor and crunch to this salad. I’ve also experimented with carrots and cucumber, but celery wins in my book -- especially paired up with tuna. Celery’s in season right now so grab some on your next trip to the farmers' market.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Using vinaigrette instead of mayo means you're getting healthy fat from vegetable oils (like olive and canola) instead of saturated fat and cholesterol. Make my quick vinaigrette recipe, or use your favorite store-bought brand. Just check labels carefully to avoid the ones loaded with added sugar. Newman’s Own and Annie’s are some good picks.

Combine pasta and peas in a large bowl with tuna, celery and balsamic vinaigrette. Season with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste; mix well to combine. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature. Enjoy this salad as is or pile it over mixed greens.

Nutrition Info:
Servings: 6 (1 cup per person)
Calories: 234
Fat: 8 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram
Protein: 13 grams
Carbohydrate: 28 grams
Sodium:191 milligrams
Cholesterol: 10 milligrams
Fiber: 4 grams
Keep Reading

Next Up

5 Ingredients: Pasta With Anchovies, Olives & Spinach

You may have caught the new show on Food Network -- 5 Ingredient Fix -- but we wanted to try our hand at creating our own simple, healthy weeknight meals from a few pantry staples. This first attempt is based around whole grain pasta.

5 Ingredients: Cucumber Salad

Healthy and family-friendly! This light cucumber salad makes a great side for barbecue fare and is easy to tote along for a picnic.

5 Ingredients: Broccoli Salad

A picnic staple in the South, mayonnaise-drenched and bacon-laden broccoli salads can be overflowing with fat and calories. This salad can be satisfying and super-nutritious when you focus on the basic ingredients.

5-Ingredient Recipes: Pasta Salad, 3 Ways

Here are 3 classic salads, re-created pasta style, made with 5 ingredients each.

5 Ingredients: Lightened-Up Chicken Salad

Store-bought chicken salad is far from a healthy option, with some kinds weighing in at more than 550 calories and 40 grams of fat per cup! Instead of the mayo-drenched take-out versions, try this fresh and light recipe – all it takes is 5 simple ingredients.

Sweet Balsamic, Grape ‘n’ Tuna Pasta Salad

This Sweet Balsamic ‘n’ Tuna Grape Salad is the perfect dish to keep things cool during your upcoming Labor Day picnic.

5-Ingredient Pasta from Kitchen Sink

When time is tight, look to these go-to pasta recipes to save the day.

Tuna Salad, Lightened Up

Tuna is one of my go-to foods at parties or a friend’s luncheon but some folks drench their tuna in mayonnaise. Besides upping the calories, a boatload of mayonnaise drowns out the delicious tuna flavor. Next time you plan on making tuna salad, try some of these exciting ways to flavor and lighten it up.

Pass the Pasta Salad

If you're tired of your favorite pasta salad recipe, jazz it up by following these simple guidelines.