Basil-Lime Tuna Salad (gluten-free, ACD)

Basil-Lime Tuna Salad

I don't eat a lot of canned food, but I just can't resist canned fish. High quality canned tuna, salmon, sardines, and anchovies top the list of some of my favorite foods. My ultimate favorite is olive oil-packed tuna, which is so flavorful, rich, and indulgent that it is almost like fish dessert.

I know the words "fish" and "dessert" should never really be used together, but I think olive-oil packed imported tuna is an exception.

When selecting tuna, make sure to read the label - many conventional tunas are packed in vegetable broths that contain soy or other additives.  High-quality tunas are packed only in water or olive oil, and are actually lower in mercury than conventional tunas, often higher in omega-3 fatty acids, and are often more sustainably farmed. There are many excellent, natural tunas imported from Italy, Spain, and France.  These are often absolutely crazy delicious, but are generally pretty darn pricy and are hard to find in many smaller cities. For more widely available tunas, I like tunas by American Tuna(lowest in mercury and BPA-free cans, sold at Whole Foods), Crown Prince(switching to BPA-free tuna cans this year, sold at Whole Foods, many regular grocers and co-ops), Wild Planet (BPA-free cans, high omega 3, low mercury, I've only seen it at my co-ops so far), and Natural Sea(sold at Whole Foods and many regular grocers), or for a really cheap deal when you're feeling thrifty, the tuna by Genova (sold almost everywhere) or Trader Joe's.  Crown Prince and Wild Planet also make excellent canned sardines, if you're feeling fishy...

If you only have access to conventional tunas, I have found that Starkist Low Sodium is packed only in water - one of the only conventional tunas that doesn't have soy.  Starkist also makes a natural olive oil-packed tuna that is decent, and contains no other additives.  I have found it at regular grocery stores, gas stations, and SuperTarget - it is often my lifesaver when traveling. 

This tuna salad has a bright flavor and light, crunchy texture.  Celery, basil, lime zest, red cabbage, and red onion create a beautiful color palette of deep purple and bright green, which is sure to win over anyone who is bored of regular old tuna salad.  You may have noticed that I included lime juice again, which is another success in my reincorporation of lemon and lime to my otherwise citrus-free diet. Hooray!

Eat this tuna salad on its own, scoop it over a mixed greens salad, or put it in a collard leaf, romaine leaf, or gluten-free tortilla for a delicious wrap.  If you can eat tomatoes, try stuffing scooped out full size or cherry tomatoes and serving chilled or roasted. For fun appetizers or snacks, scoop into a Belgian endive spear for little "tuna boats".  The options are endless!

Basil-Lime Tuna Salad

Basil-Lime Tuna Salad

serves 2-4

Use a high quality canned tuna for best flavor, texture, and nutrition - see above for my favorite brand recommendations. 

2 cans natural, high-quality tuna

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, cut in a chiffonade or chopped

2 organic celery stalks and their leaves (use more tender inner stalks if possible), finely chopped

1/4 cup red cabbage, finely chopped

1/4 smallish red onion, finely chopped 

juice and zest of 1 lime (if you are citrus intolerant, use 1/2-3/4 tsp vitamin C crystals dissolved in 1 Tbsp water)

extra virgin olive oil

slat & pepper to taste 

Finely chop cabbage, celery, and onion and place in a bowl with drained tuna.  Add juice and zest of the lime and a big glug or two of olive oil, and stir a couple of times, then add basil and stir until well combined.  Season to taste with salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately, or chill until ready to serve. Flavor improves if it sits overnight.

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