My Mediterranean orzo salad with tuna gives you all those famously healthy benefits of the Mediterranean diet, no matter where you live! With all the food groups represented in every bite, it’s an easy dinner solution.
orzo salad with tuna is a pantry friendly pasta salad
This year round version of a summer pasta salad is equally as vibrant and delicious, but made largely from pantry staples, with a few fresh pops thrown in for good measure. It makes a great lunch or light supper and it’s so tasty I can’t pass by the fridge without stealing a forkful (same thing happens with my Mediterranean bean salad, lol.)
your shopping list for orzo salad with tuna
Keep your pantry stocked with jars of Mediterranean staples and last minute dinners like this orzo salad with tuna will be easy. My stash always includes olives, and marinated stuff like sun dried tomatoes and artichokes because they give any dish instant flavor.
- orzo ~ a tiny delicate pasta that looks just like rice. It has a nice firm chew which gives this salad a wonderful easy to eat texture. It doesn’t overpower the salad the way bulkier penne or bowtie pasta might.
- olive oil ~ use a good fruity extra virgin. Give it the taste test, it should taste slightly peppery, with a bright olive flavor.
- lemon juice ~ I often use fresh lemon juice instead of vinegar, especially in Mediterranean dressings.
- mustard ~ the mustard and honey not only add flavor, they help the dressing to ’emulsify’ into a creamy dressing that will not separate.
- honey ~ a little touch of sweetness balances the acidic lemon.
- jarred tuna fillets ~ basically gourmet tuna. Use your favorite canned tuna as well.
- marinated sun dried tomatoes ~ these pack the boldest flavor of anything in this salad, love them.
- olives ~ kudos if you get them from an olive bar, and do make sure they’re pitted!
- marinated artichoke hearts
- baby cucumber ~ the little bit of fresh crunch makes all the difference in this salad.
- red onion ~ it’s beautiful and adds that perfect peppery bite.
- chickpeas ~ make sure to rinse and drain well.
- baby arugula ~ it’s a simple thing, but adding a couple of handfuls of fresh greens to a pasta salad is genius. If you make the salad ahead of time, add them at the last minute.
- feta cheese ~ imported is best. Feta has earned the European Protected Designation of Origin status and Greece is the only place that can legally claim to make feta cheese. They’ve been doing it for centuries, and they’re good at it 🙂 Outside of Europe you will still find non Greek ‘feta’ cheese, but it is probably made with cow’s milk, not sheep or goat milk like they do in Greece. Who knew there was such drama in the cheese aisle??
- capers ~ it’s a personal preference.
- salt ~ be sure to taste as you add salt since some of the ingredients are already salty.
I prefer jars over cans whenever possible
Personal observation here, but I think jarred foods taste better and fresher than canned. They don’t have that ‘tinny’ flavor that cans tend to impart to food. So in this salad I’ve sought out jarred foods for everything except the chickpeas. (I’ve heard tell that jarred chickpeas are phenomenal…I’m still on the hunt for those in my local stores.) The inspiration for this dish came from a beautiful little jar of tuna fillets packed in olive oil. It lends an elegant feel to this tuna salad and makes it dinner-worthy for me.
Many of these components will come packed in oil, and you may be tempted to use some of that oil in this salad, or as part of the dressing, but I advise against that. The oil used to package products like tuna filets or marinated tomatoes or artichokes is never the highest quality. You’re much better off going with an extra virgin olive oil for health benefits and flavor.
why should you add tuna to your pasta salads?
Tuna is a great, cheap source of healthy protein. It’s plentiful in the world’s oceans, and provides you with a good dose of omega 3 fatty acids that help lower your bad cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart attacks. They may even fight certain types of cancer. It’s a low calorie, high protein food full of important vitamins and minerals.
If you’re concerned about mercury, the FDA recommends 1 to 2 servings of tuna a week. I generally eat tuna once every 3 weeks or so, so I don’t worry. And did you know that canned tuna is lower in mercury than fresh fish?
gotta love tuna
Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Tuna might be your summer potluck version of this one.
Sheet Pan Tuna Melts are a tried and true people pleaser and an easy dinner option.
Spaghetti Peperonata with Tuna and Olives continues the healthy Mediterranean vibe.
Spicy Tuna Wonton Cups prove that tuna can dress up for a cocktail party!
Summer Tomato and Tuna Salad is about as vibrant as tuna can get.
Pretty Plated Tuna Salad shows off tuna’s elegant side.
Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Tuna
- 1 cup raw orzo pasta
- 7 ounces good quality tuna
- 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- 1/2 cup marinated sundried tomatoes, sliced or chopped
- 1/2 cup pitted olives, assorted
- 1 cup baby cucumber, diced
- 1/3 cup red onion, finely sliced
- 1 cup chickpeas
- a large handful of arugula
- coarse salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 Tbsp capers, optional
- Put all the dressing ingredients in a jar, cap tightly, and shake vigorously until creamy. Taste to adjust any of the elements to your liking.
- Cook the orzo until just al dente in plenty of well salted boiling water. Drain and rinse briefly. Drain well again and put into a large bowl. Toss with a couple of tablespoons of the dressing.
- Add the rest of the salad ingredients to the bowl and toss gently with enough dressing to moisten. You may not need it all. Cover and refrigerate the salad until ready to serve.
- Serve garnished with feta cheese and capers, if using.