Friday, September 5, 2014

Mediterranean Tuna Salad with Olive Dressing

This is the elegant magazine version. They used garnish!
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: The fabulous Kaye Barley is going to be blogging here on Sunday, our usual recipe day, so I'm going to share a dinner suggestion with you today. I ran across this in  BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS magazine and tore it out, thinking it would be fancy to serve to guests. However, when  generous neighbor gave us a huge bowl filled with fingerling potatoes and wax beans, it was like a message from the culinary gods. And I'm so glad I listened! 

It turns out Mediterranean Tuna Salad with Olive Dressing has all the elements I look for in a recipe: it's cheap (but doesn't look it) extremely fast and easy, and, important for cooking when it's 90 degrees out, only requires ten minutes of boiling (so it won't heat up the kitchen to unbearable levels. Oh, and most importantly, it's delicious. I doubled the recipe, which made enough for three hungry adults with two lunch-sized servings left over for the next day. Here it is:

Mediterranean Tuna Salad with Olive Dressing (double portion)

2 lb. tiny new potatoes, halved if large (but if you use fingerlings like I did, you don't have to do any slicing at all!)

2 lb. fresh green beans (I used wax beans.) You only have to snap off the thick stem end - again, no cutting or other snapping involved. Super quick.

2 16 oz cans of white tuna (those are the big cans. It would take 6 little cans to get the same amount.)


1 cup green olives with pimentos. (The standard jar makes one cup. You could go all fancy, I suppose, but I used one  of those no-name brand jars of cocktail olives, and it turned out fine.)

6 Tbsp good olive oil (1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp) Use the good stuff, it does make a difference.

2 Tbsp spicy Brown mustard. I only had spicy sweet-hot and used that instead, and it was quite nice.

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp sugar

Throw the potatoes into water and bring it to  boil.  Let them boil for 5 minutes, then add the beans and boil for another 5 minutes. You want the veggies to be just fork-tender.

Meanwhile, dump all the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor, blend or process until they're smooth and creamy.

Combine potatoes, beans, and flaked tuna (try to leave it in bite-sized chunks.) Add the dressing.

That's it! The original recipe picture clearly shows the meal plated individually, with the dressing drizzled over artistically arranged beans and potatoes. But really, who does that? I tossed it all together in  big salad bowl. It wasn't as pretty, but it was super easy and boy did it taste good.
To be fair, this is also day-after leftovers.


  1. I enjoy tuna; this sounds so delicious . . . I can't wait to try it. Thanks for sharing the recipe . . . .

  2. Yum. Thanks. Now I know what we're having for dinner Saturday night - my farmer son just brought home a bunch of fabulous fingerlings and my pole beans have been bearing like there's a frost coming or something. Oh, yeah, there is, sooner or later.

  3. We do an all summer variation on this with cold salmon and vegetables (especially just tender Jerusalem artichokes) and garlic mayonnaise. And of course a crusty French bread.

  4. Sounds like one of this weekend's dinners is all planned - thanks, Julia!

  5. Oh yum, perfect September meal! I love fingerlings--sounds like Edith could make enough for all of us on Saturday...

  6. Come on over, Reds and Reds-fans! Saturday at 6. Bring wine.

  7. YUM! Tuna salad AND potato salad, all at the same time.

  8. I love it when I find yummy recipes here. Thank you, Julia!

  9. Wouldn't it be fun if we could all be together, enjoying good food and wine?

    Thanks for this recipe, Julia. I've been looking for something to use my tiny new potatoes and green beans together. This will do nicely.

    And I love the idea of garlic mayonnaise, Hallie! MMm.

    Is it time for dinner yet?

  10. I use black olives and it becomes a variation on salade Nicoise. I found Nicoise olives at Whole Foods last week and bought them just for this (along with beans from the farmers markets and some potatoes I need to use up).

    But I'm very frustrated about what we're doing to our planet: tuna has too much mercury to eat frequently and Bluefin tuna are seriously endangered; farmed salmon don't have the food value of wild caught, but wild caught from the Pacific carry radiation from Fukushima. And we won't even start with GMO seeds and the drift into my organic garden from the stuff my uphill neighbors spray on their lawn. Sad-- so one has to put it out of one's consciousness or there would be nothing left that's edible,

  11. Ellen,

    You're right about trying to be thoughtful around sustainability issues. One could easily do this recipe a la Hallie, with farmed salmon.

    I have to tell a story on my husband: we were eating out a few years ago, at a time when the Maine news had been full of reports that swordfish were in danger of becoming commercially extinct. Ross, who LOVES seafood, ordered a swordfish steak.

    "You know,"I informed him, "Swordfish could be extinct in our lifetimes due to overfishing!"

    He forked a big bite into his mouth. "Then I better eat as much of it as I can now."

  12. Julia, the first thing that amazes me is that someone actually used a recipe saved from a magazine. I come across yummy sounding dishes, immediately tear out the recipe from the magazine, and proceed to forget to ever fix it. Kudos to you for being a person who follows through.

    While I used to fix a tuna salad sandwich spread for years, recipe handed down from my mother, I at some point tired of it and tuna. So, I think I might go with Hallie's salmon as a substitute. Also, I would switch to Ellen's black olives, although I should probably give the green olives a chance. I have had a predisposition of dislike for the green since as a child my father would eat the green olives from the little jar and drink the juice left behind. Scarred me for life. I have a similar distaste for sardines due to the same source. Sometimes such childhood trauma just won't go away. LOL!

  13. I am not the cook in the house (we recently calculated that I make, on average, one dinner a month), so naturally I love finding recipes that I might actually make. Thanks, this looks yummy!

  14. One of my go-to summer meals. Everyone loves it. I have been treating us to the fancy tuna in a jar.

  15. This is a recipe even I could make!


  16. Julia wrote: "The fabulous Kaye Barley is going to be blogging here on Sunday, . . . "


    Lordy, but I do love it here. Thank you, Julia!

  17. Hello!
    I’m Giuseppe from I’m writing you just to let you know we’ve mentioned your site among the ones we suggest reading. You can find it here:

    The post is just a way to thank bloggers who help us spreading the news about crime fiction and I hope you’ll enjoy it.
    Of course, if you liked to mention it anywhere on your own website and your social profiles, or to add us to your suggested blog list as well, it would be a pleasure for us.
    Cheers, and keep it up with the great work!