Think beyond tuna salad—this unassuming tinned fish will be a new suppertime staple.
Tuna Pasta Salad
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

With the novel coronavirus confining us to our homes, more and more Americans are eating from our pantries. We’ve been getting creative with canned beans and jarred sauces, dressing up boxed pasta and rice, and plundering our freezers to find those chicken breasts we froze who knows how long ago. With our new pantry-centric meal prep tactic, canned food has become a mainstay in many of our diets. Not only are foods like canned beans great sources of protein, they’re hearty and satisfying. Another one of our favorite shelf-stable protein sources? Tinned fish.

Specifically, canned tuna is experiencing a surge in popularity. Canned tuna is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and numerous other nutrients. “Tuna, in general, is a great source of many nutrients, including protein, selenium, and Vitamin D, says Lauren Manaker, a South Carolina-based registered dietitian,” Jenny McCoy writes for Cooking Light.

Tuna’s health benefits are reason enough to break out those cans stocked in the back of your pantry, but we’re also here to show you that tuna can form the base of a stunning supper. Yes, we could sing the virtues of a simple, yet classic tuna salad sandwich all day long, but tuna can be delicious even when it’s not slathered between two slices of white bread.

For Lunch: Tuna Pasta Salad

Planning a picnic? A ladies’ luncheon? A baby shower? This Tuna Pasta Salad is endlessly versatile, perfect for a whole slew of occasions. Since it can be served chilled or at room temperature, it’s easily portable and requires little maintenance. Any leftovers will make a lovely side at lunchtime.

For this recipe, our Test Kitchen recommends using good-quality tuna packed in oil, which has a rich texture and more flavor than the water-packed variety. An envelope of ranch dressing mix is the secret to seriously upgrading this pasta salad’s flavor.

For Dinner: New Tuna Casserole with Potato Chips

Southerners know our casseroles, and trust us when we say that this one is a keeper. A creamy, cheesy pasta bake is enriched by leeks, green beans, fresh herbs, and a can of solid white tuna. Top it all off with a crispy panko-potato chip topping and you’ve got a delectable combination of flavors and textures. Bake a double-batch of this New Tuna Casserole and bring one to the new mom in the neighborhood—she’ll certainly be asking you for the recipe.

WATCH: Make-Ahead Tuna Casserole

Other Uses for Tuna

If you’re lucky enough to come across fresh, sushi-grade tuna, put a Southern spin on a Japanese staple with our Spicy Tuna Roll with Crispy Fried Okra.