The perfect lunch comes together quickly and keeps you full until the evening. Bonus points are given if this dish is a make-ahead, where you food prep it and grab yourself a serving whenever you are hungry. Even more bonus points if the dish is healthy!
Easy Southern Tuna Macaroni Salad is a quick, make-ahead meal that is also good for you. It combines the tang of southern tuna salad with the satiation of macaroni salad. If you make this dish during your weekly food prep day, you can have a healthy scoop of tuna pasta salad for lunch all week long!
What makes tuna salad southern-style is the addition of pickle relish, usually sweet, and some kind of spicy seasoning. This recipe uses the classic sweet pickle relish along with some authentic Creole seasoning, which packs quite a punch. Cage-free egg mayo (AKA the best mayo on Earth) adds the creamy element and lemon juice adds the acid to this dressing.
Any good macaroni salad needs some crunchy vegetables inside. Fresh and crisp celery, shallot, and red bell peppers round out the veggies in this salad, which are super important for texture. Add any fresh vegetables that you like to this salad, as it is a very forgiving recipe.
Much like using good-quality mayonnaise as the main ingredient, you also want to find high-quality tuna. Usually, imported tuna or tuna packed in oil have the best quality. Try and find a flaky, firm, and unscented can of imported tuna packed in oil. If you open up your can of tuna and do not like the smell coming from it, try another brand.
Once the pasta is cooked and all ingredients are tossed together, it’s time to dress the salad. Pasta tends to absorb a lot of sauces when cooked, which is why some pasta salads may seem dry. When adding the dressing, only add ½ of the total mixture and then toss. Add a little more until it seems saucy enough, but always save a small amount of dressing. This way, you will have more dressing to toss the salad with before serving, ensuring a delightfully creamy texture.
Food prep this salad so that you have a healthy lunch option all week long that takes zero effort. This salad is also awesome for picnics and BBQ parties as a side dish. Easy Southern Tuna Macaroni Salad is the perfect way to combine two of the best classic American salads.
Cook your dry pasta as per the package instructions until it is al dente. Drain and allow to cool slightly.
As the pasta cooks, add the canned tuna, chopped eggs, celery, shallot, red bell pepper, and sweet relish to a large mixing bowl. Try not to break up the tuna too much when removing it from the can.
In another smaller bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, Creole seasoning, salt, and black pepper until everything is homogenous.
Add the drained pasta to the mixing bowl with the tuna and veggies. Cover with ½ of the sauce. Stir everything until the salad is well mixed. Add ½ of the remaining dressing and stir. Save the last bit of dressing for after the salad chills.
Chill in the fridge (also chill the remaining sauce for later) for at least 2 hours. When ready to serve, pour the remaining dressing over the salad and toss again for optimal creaminess. If you add all the dressing at once, the noodles absorb most of it, leaving you with a dry macaroni salad.
Pour your tuna macaroni salad into a serving bowl. Top with fresh parsley and paprika. Serve chilled.