A few years ago, I tried a tuna salad at a potluck. It was so good that I have never been able to get it out of my mind. I knew that it was probably mayonnaise-based and had tuna, quinoa, and peas in it, but beyond that, I wasn’t sure. I remember it being a simple blend of flavors and textures that seemed genius, but easy. I Googled many times for a recipe that seemed similar, but I never found The One. Even Pinterest has failed me on this one. Time has faded my memories of the particular details of this salad, but never my zeal – I remember eating several helpings and wishing I could toss etiquette out the window and just steal the whole bowl from the table. (For the record: I did not.)
Here is my version. I don’t know if it’s a dead ringer for the original, but I do know that it was so good that I (again) could have eaten the whole bowl. (Only this time, I’m pregnant, and I was eating at home, so I probably could have gotten away with it. For the record: I did not.) Most of my family loved this as much as I did, so I know I did something right.
YIELD: 6 – 8 servings as a side dish | 4 – 6 servings as a main dish
- 1.5 c quinoa
- 3 c water
- 2 c peas (frozen or fresh)
- 2 large handfuls fresh spinach
- 2 6 oz. cans tuna
- 3/4 c mayonnaise
- 2-4 tbsp lemon juice
- A few swirls of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 tsp dill
- 1 tsp parsley
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Cook quinoa. If yours is not the kind that has been pre-washed (or even if it is, just to be safe), rinse the quinoa until there are no more soapy bubbles. If you don’t, it will be bitter. Drain the quinoa and bring it to boil in the 3 cups of water; cover, turn burner to low, and simmer for 20 minutes without disturbing. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
- If your peas are frozen, quickly but gently fold them into the cooked quinoa, re-cover, and let them sit to thaw.
- Make dressing: whisk together mayo, lemon juice, EVOO, dill, parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper until well blended.
- Chop your two handfuls of spinach to a medium courseness, or whatever suits your tastes.
- Place quinoa, peas, spinach, and tuna in large bowl; drizzle dressing over top. Use a fork to fluff the quinoa, if necessary, and gently fold the dressing into the salad (I use a silicone spatula).
- Taste and adjust seasonings. I added another little splash of lemon juice and a few sprinkles of salt.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve. It is tasty at room temperature or cold.
- Steps 1-4 can be done hours ahead of time. Make sure the quinoa has come to room temp before doing step 5.
- Some of my measurements are rather imprecise because it really depends on your personal tastes. I encourage you to start at the lower end of those flexible measurements and add to the dressing after you’ve tried it, but before mixing it into the salad. I rarely measure when I’m cooking on my own, so even writing down these measurements was a bit of a challenge for me. If you try the recipe and have feedback on the amounts given, please comment!