Affordable Lunches is a series that features nutritious and cost effective recipes to make at home. Want more? Check out the full list here.

It’s true, tuna pasta salad gets a bad rap. It can spark mental images of an unappetizing bowl of overcooked pasta, mushy peas, and way-too-much-mayo that’s sat in a grocery store deli case for far too long.

But this tuna pasta salad is different. We promise.

Per serving, this pasta salad has:

  • 425 calories
  • high amounts of fiber and iron
  • 24 grams of protein

With the satiating trifecta of fiber, protein, and healthy fats, you may find you’re full until dinner.

Inspired by Mediterranean flavors, this salad trades mayonnaise for a light and zesty vinaigrette and is loaded with herbs and fresh veggies. Jarred ingredients like marinated artichokes, roasted red peppers, and olives add a ton of flavor without a ton of dollars.

The tuna in this recipe is — and should be — the highest cost per serving ingredient.

Bonus: This colorful salad is a great meal-prep lunch idea, as it tastes even better the next day!

Mediterranean Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe

Servings: 4

Cost per serving: $2.80

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. whole grain rotini pasta
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 Persian cucumber, diced
  • 4 oz. grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 4 oz. marinated artichokes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 can tuna
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions, in generously salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and rinse under cold water, toss with a drizzle of olive oil, and set aside to cool completely.
  2. Make the dressing. In a mason jar, combine the minced shallot, olive oil, Dijon, lemon juice and zest, vinegar, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Shake vigorously until emulsified.
  3. Toss the cooled pasta with the cucumber, tomatoes, olives, red peppers, artichokes, feta, tuna, and parsley. Pour in the dressing and mix until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt and pepper as desired.
  4. Let the pasta sit in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 4 hours. Enjoy!
Pro tip When making pasta for salads, toss the drained pasta immediately with a little olive oil to avoid it from sticking together as it cools.

Tiffany La Forge is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer who runs the blog Parsnips and Pastries. Her blog focuses on real food for a balanced life, seasonal recipes, and approachable health advice. When she’s not in the kitchen, Tiffany enjoys yoga, hiking, traveling, organic gardening, and hanging out with her corgi, Cocoa. Visit her at her blog or on Instagram.