I’ve been craving pasta salad with tuna since I discovered we were out of tuna. Isn’t that typical? Then we restocked the fridge (I store it in the fridge since most of the time I eat it cold) but we still had so many vegetables from the garden to eat. Well we’re not done with veggie salads yet; garden vegetables would go well in a tuna salad! Zucchini, meet tuna salad!
I created my own salad then went food recipe surfing through Google for dressing ideas. I found a simple oil and vinegar dressing being used on a pasta and veg salad on My Recipes. I didn’t want to use mayo and this fit well with my theme. They even used a few of the vegetables I’d just thrown into my large bowl! I probably could have invented a dressing on my own but I’m not confident enough with that stuff yet.
I started salted water boiling to cook the tri-color rotini I’d chosen to use for the pasta part of the salad. Once the pasta was al dente I drained and rinsed it in cold water to chill it somewhat. Dinner was in 3 hours, it wasn’t going to cool very long in the fridge.
While the pasta cooked and cooled I diced some zucchini (it’s still the Year of the Zucchini) and sautéed it in a drizzle of olive oil until it was nicely browned. Zucchini doesn’t have much flavor but caramelize it a little and it sings on your tongue!
I added some chopped snow peas I’d had in the freezer for a while and browned them with the zucchini to remove the icebox flavor. Yeah that “you got fish in that freezer too?” flavor.
I chopped some green onion, some red onion, and some spinach and put them into my favorite hot pink Tupperware mixing bowl.
When the zucchini and snow peas were done I added them to my bowl. The pasta went into the bowl next. I took a detour from halving the cherry tomatoes and did the surfing for a dressing. That found, I measured the olive oil and red wine vinegar into a bowl with salt, pepper and a dash of garlic salt.
I whisked the dressing (I know, technically it’s a vinaigrette) until it emulsified then poured it over my ingredients.
I finished halving the cherry tomatoes. When you cut a cherry tomato in half do you find the top and cut it perfectly in half or do you just grab it and cut it randomly? My O.C. makes me do it from the top most of the time. This time I made myself be a wild woman and just cut anywhere. I’m still in shock.
I added some chopped capers and stirred the salad until it was fully mixed. I taste tested to see if I needed anything (salt, pepper). It was just right, said Goldilocks.
The salad fit perfectly into one of my favorite Ziploc shoebox food storage containers (Ziploc, contact me, I’m your biggest fan!). I refrigerated the salad until dinner. We were grilling burgers and a side salad would complete the meal.
Yum! The salad was delish! It was basically a vegetable salad with pasta and tuna added. I finally satisfied my tuna craving. The salad was great as a side dish for dinner, and even better the next day as a salad for lunch.
The flavors were all so amazing (“bold” as they say on the tv food shows), but I think it could have benefitted by having a few kalamata olives in it. The capers weren’t such a strong presence so some zippy olives would have added an extra touch of acid. Or add more capers. Either/or both!
Garden Vegetable and Tuna Pasta Salad
16 oz box pasta (I used a tri-color rotini); cooked al dente according to box directions
1 cup zucchini; finely diced
1/2 cup snow peas; frozen, thawed and cut into 1″ pieces
1/4 cup red onion; finely diced
1/4 cup green onion; finely diced
1/2 cup spinach; chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes; halved
3 tablespoons capers; rinsed and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Cook pasta according to box directions and rinse with cold water to cool down. Add to a large mixing bowl.
Sauté zucchini in a nonstick skillet with a drizzle of olive oil until well browned. Add snow peas and sauté a few more minutes until they are lightly browned. Cool and add to bowl. Add rest of vegetables and capers to the bowl.
In a separate bowl whisk olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Pour over vegetables and stir or toss to mix well.
Store in a covered container in the refrigerator until served. Best if chilled at least 3-4 hours ahead of time.
Approx 8 servings
Adapted from My Recipes