Healthy Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Here’s a quick mid-week recipe that you can whip up in a couple minutes flat. I love tuna salad. Growing up, my mom would pack my lunch, and I always looked forward to her tuna sandwich on white bread with mayo. Now that I have my own kitchen, I often make tuna salad to add a protein boost to my lunch. While I still love Mom’s mayo version, I recently came up with a lighter, more Mediterranean-style recipe to change things up. I added fresh lemon juice for tartness, fresh basil for an herby flavor, and celery for crunch. Olive oil replaced the heavy (and high cholesterol) mayonnaise. Season the mixture generously with salt and pepper, and you’ve got a fresh tuna salad that is packed with flavor. You won’t miss the mayo!

I like to serve this tuna on top of a kale salad, or as an open-faced sandwich on whole grain or pumpernickel toast. Spread a piece of bread with a thin layer of hummus, then top with lettuce, tomato, and tuna salad. Super filling, heart healthy and so yummy! Your body and your taste buds will both say “thank you.”

Make sure you use a high quality extra virgin olive oil for optimum flavor. I carry an organic brand in Tori’s Market that is imported from Israel – click here to check it out. It’s delish!

Healthy Tuna Salad


  • 1 can (5 oz) water packed tuna, drained (if you're not worried about the healthy fat content, get the Italian olive oil packed tuna in jars-- the flavor is terrific!)
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • 1/2 stalk celery, minced
  • 1 finely chopped scallion - green part only (optional)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice, or more to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Total Time: 5 Minutes
Servings: 2
Kosher Key: Pareve
  • Pour the tuna in a small mixing bowl. Use a fork to break the tuna chunks into very small pieces.
  • Add the basil, celery and lemon juice to the bowl. Use the fork to stir all the ingredients together till well mixed.
  • Add extra virgin olive oil to moisten the tuna to your liking. I usually use between 1 and 2 tbsp. Season with salt and pepper to taste; sea salt and freshly ground pepper is best. Serve.

Comments (35)Post a Comment

  1. I love this recipe but since I can’t have citrus ( Lemon) I am wondering what I could substitute? I too love Mayo but gave up all fatty foods many years ago and have had Tuna mostly) plain/ except for the occasional cut up Vadilia Onion and a bit of celery on Matzo…….Thanks for the great recipes

    1. I’ve used plain non-fat greek yogurt in place of mayo – tastes great! Can’t wait to try this recipe.

    2. I second the idea of using plain yogurt. It will give you that little bit of tartness that lemon would have, with the creaminess of mayo

  2. That’s a good tuna salad – medeterranean-y for sure.
    If you don’t like med. you can do a more traditional
    tuna salad and use plain (unflavored) yogurt for most of the mayo. I’ve found that very satisfactory.

  3. My mother’s tuna salad was so delicious, other kids in my class used to trade me their lunches for it. For years as an adult, I wondered why my own tuna salad wasn’t as good as I remembered from my childhood! Finally I figured it out — water-packed tuna just doesn’t cut it. I went back to oil-packed — specifically, Genova Tonno brand “solid light tuna in olive oil,” and what a difference! It’s so tasty I even like it plain.

    1. Hi Nina, I totally agree with you! The olive oil packed tuna is fantastic. However, using the water packed allows people to add the olive oil to taste and gives more control over the fat content. That said, if fat content is not an issue, then the olive oil packed tuna is the way to go! I especially like the Italian jarred varieties. I’ll update the post so people know it’s an option. :)

    1. Mmmm, walnuts… we add them to all kinds of dishes in our home! They add a warm, nutty flavor to so many dishes. I bet they’d be heaven in tuna salad!

  4. I’m not Jewish but my ex was, and he couldn’t have Mayo so I would use Miracle Whip. Also I put an hard boiled egg in and that helps hold it together along with celery and us a reminder you can also used your differnt spices. It does make it yummy.

  5. Thanks for the recipe. I have food allergies and am on a special diet with no soy or eggs, so normal mayo was out of the question. Oh, and it gives me a good excuse to use some fresh basil. Yum.

  6. Oh my gosh- this is fabulous! Didn’t have fresh basil so I used the Tuscan Herb Olive Oil I had and fell in love with this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Hi Emily, while tuna generally tastes best freshly prepared (the flavor tends to get fishy over time), it should hold up for 24-48 hours in the fridge. You may need to add a bit more olive oil to refresh it after refrigeration. Try to make it fresh if you can, though. Enjoy!

  7. This sounds delicious! I am in college, and now that I have total freedom to buy my own groceries I am becoming an amateur health nut, if you will; so being in college, I am concerned with this: How long would a batch of this last refridgerated in a tupperware?

  8. Sounds like a great recipe! I sometimes mash up a bit of avocado in with the tuna in place of mayo and it’s super yummy. Avocado is a “good” fat, right?

  9. Thank you for sharing this recipe. For anyone craving the creaminess of mayo in a tuna salad, add a can of white beans (cannelini) instead. It not only mimics the mouth feel of mayo, it also adds extra protein and fiber to the salad. I also include some finely chopped red onion and a bit more lemon juice and olive oil.

  10. Hi well I was wondering does the olive oil really matter? If I would exclude it out of the recipe would the flavor change? Hope you answer this because I plan to make this anytime soon it looks so good.thanks for the recipe.

    1. Hi Mildred– yes, the olive oil matters, if you don’t include it the salad will taste somewhat dry. You can add a little at a time if you like till the texture is to your liking.

  11. That’s a nice Mediterranean tuna recipe and I’m tempted to give this one a try. I love the taste of olive oil in a salad so this recipe will definitely hit the spot. Thank you for sharing this and I look forward to trying more of your recipes in future.

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