Healthier Tuna Salad or Tuna Melts

Canned Tuna – its such a pantry staple and so cheap during Lent I always pick up some for a pittance. But then – what to do with it! There’s a casserole or two, and maybe a salad, and the old standby, sandwiches made with mayo, but Tuna can get boring pretty darned fast.

Healthier Tuna Melt or Salad

Healthier Tuna Melt or Salad

It’s easy to turn up your nose at canned tuna – after all, there’s no comparing it to fresh! I’ve seen canned tuna at one time or another in the pantries of all my friends and relatives, and probably has been in every household I’ve ever stepped foot in. The trick is to make it exciting! You’ll find no lack of excitement in this fresh little mix-up, whether served hot or cold.

And if Tuna isn’t your thing? Use poached or left over chicken, instead. It’s wise to be aware of the how much and what kind of Tuna is safe to eat. Check out this handy calculator by Colin Dunn of Planet Green. Hint: light tuna has lower levels of mercury than Albacore.

Healthier Tuna Melt or Salad as a Wrap

Healthier Tuna Melt or Salad as a Wrap – a few MORE veggies added to wrap, cabbage & carrot.

My Mom always dressed her Tuna Salad with finely diced celery and onion and mixed in little chunks of Velveeta, which melted beautifully under the broiler. It was also served on left over hot dog or hamburger buns, often as not! Maybe that’s not as “gourmet” but it IS a great “save” and easier for children to eat.  Just toast them first, so they don’t get soggy.

I’ve just upped the ante, here, with more veggies, a more sophisticated cheese and better bread. Cut or replace your Mayo with Greek Yogurt for a creamy, tangy base with fewer calories or with Sour Cream for a decadent concoction.

This stuff is like crack (lol – not that I’d know!) and you might want to make extra. The creaminess is outstanding with the little crunch from all the veggies! When I make the wrap version, I put down the wrap and add a little lettuce or in this case, shredded cabbage and carrots, to the wrap. The extra veg keeps it from getting soggy if you make it in the a.m. (or night before) and take it to work.

I served the Tuna Melts with Creamy Coleslaw – particularly easy since I had some of the ingredients out already! The open-faced sandwiches ran about $3.00, the cole-slaw, I didn’t price, but bought several heads around St. Patrick’s day when it’s always at a low.

Healthier Tuna Melt or Salad

Healthier Tuna Melt or Salad

Healthier Tuna Salad or Melt

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
  • 2 small or one large can(s) tuna fish, drained
  • 1/2 bell pepper, perhaps a bit more, any color or an equivalent amount of mixed, finely diced
  • 1/2 stalk finely diced celery
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal
  • 2 ounces, 1/4 of a block of a good melting cheese, in 3/8″ cubes
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons of mayo, Greek yogurt, sour cream or a mixture
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • few grinds of pepper
  • pinch of celery seed
  • squeeze of lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, optional

Mix all ingredients together. Taste and adjust. If broiling on a French or Italian loaf, it’s helpful to remove a bit of the bread from the loaf (use for bread crumbs or croutons) and while you’re mixing your ingredients, place the bread under the broiler until it becomes a bit dry. It keeps it from getting soggy later.

To broil: Place on a sheet pan under broiler, 4 to 6 inches away from element and broil several minutes. Keep the door ajar when broiling, watch closely and adjust positioning if needed.

from the kitchen of

Remove a little bread and slightly toast while mixing salad - it won't get soggy!

Remove a little bread and slightly toast while mixing salad – it won’t get soggy!

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Read {Strategies Applied} for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving money/time and managing this recipe.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.

Kitchen & Cooking Hack:

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Tuna Safety

How much and what kind of Tuna is safe to eat? Check out this handy calculator by Colin Dunn of Planet Green. Hint: light tuna has much lower levels of mercury than Albacore.


8 thoughts on “Healthier Tuna Salad or Tuna Melts

  1. So right about tuna being a staple so much so that I’ve switched to buying canned sardines, mackerel and salmon lately as everyone has gotten tired of the tuna. It’s a nice change of pace and the hearty chunks go nicely with beans, salads, sandwiches or whatever.

  2. Tuna (fresh or canned) was unknown in my house when I was growing up. In fact, I probably bought the first can I ever tasted some time in my early 20s. And I only enjoy the canned (light) tuna cold .. in sandwiches or as tuna macaroni salad. I even got my mom to try and like these 2 dishes. Not my dad though. Lemon juice is my secret to getting the canned tuna to taste amazing. Never tried it hot though.

    • I used to make Tuna & Macaroni Salad and still love it!! You had quite a different experience, though, I’m sure, since you were born in Romania. Since my Mom’s grandparents were born in Ireland & Germany, I was already 3rd generation on her side. We were pretty well raised on “American” type dishes and the old recipes came out only now and then on Holidays or at my Grandma’ss house.

      • I actually spent the first 7 years of my live in the former Yugoslavia though we spoke Romanian at home not Serbian, the official language. It took years before my mom would cook us things like pizza or spaghetti … we lived in an Italian neighbourhood but my mom was too busy working during the day to talk to the Italian moms in the neighbourhood and talk food. She worked in a Jewish deli (the owners were from Romania) so I got to enjoy some Jewish food like knishes and matzoh ball soup.

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