Monday, August 3, 2015

Old Fashioned Tuna Macaroni Salad

An old fashioned dish made from tuna, macaroni, chopped egg, celery, peas, salt and pepper - and for my additions, Old Bay and Cajun seasoning. Lots of potential add-ins will make this your own too!
An old fashioned dish made from tuna, macaroni, chopped egg, celery, peas, salt and pepper - and for my additions, Old Bay and Cajun seasoning. Lots of potential add-ins will make this your own too!

Old Fashioned Tuna Macaroni Salad

Along with tomatoes, cucumbers and watermelon, I have eaten this macaroni salad so many times over the summer, I figured it was about time to share it!

It's not anything new of course, or even anything I've created - frankly it's been around longer then me - but if you're a little younger than me, you may have grown up with it. If you're closer to my age, you may remember it through your early days of marriage, or those struggling first apartment or college years, because it was both easy to make and economical. I'd be willing to bet that at least some of you also still make it yourself!

It's nice and light on these hot summer days, when you just want something simple for lunch or supper - or even to snack on throughout the day. I literally get a craving on for it, especially this time of year!

I've written my version in the ratios I like, and the way I've always made it - in the old fashioned way - simply tuna, noodles, chopped egg, celery, peas and salt and pepper, but for me, two individual touches. Old Bay, which makes an appearance with just about any seafood dish I make, and a touch of Cajun seasoning - our standard Deep South all-purpose seasoning. I'm not too big on "chunk light" tuna, but my husband picked this up so I'm using it. It works okay for this but not my number one choice. I prefer "solid" and in olive oil albacore or yellowfin for flavor - just a personal preference. Use whatever your budget allows.

Oh goodie, this also gives me a chance to tell you about my Fasta Pasta microwave cooker! Y'all know I love telling you about products I have, love and use regularly, and this certainly is one of them!

I learned about Fasta Pasta from The View on ABC more than a year ago when Whoopie talked about products she loved... so I'm surprised I haven't told you about it before now, because I use this just about every time I need pasta for a recipe. It's especially good for those times when you only need a half pound or less of pasta, but I've cooked rice, potatoes, green beans and broccoli in it too.

Basically you dump in your pasta, add water to the recommended fill line (from the booklet that comes with it), microwave without the lid for the recommended time, stir and microwave a few minutes longer, put the lid on and drain. It has handles to make it super easy to remove from the microwave, and the lid has drain holes so you can walk it right to the sink, drain it and then you're ready to go. No watching a pot and waiting for the water to boil. Another of my favorite kitchen gadgets!

For the salad, my secret is to mix the mayonnaise in while the noodles are still hot, then add the other ingredients, gently folding in the tuna and peas last. You can use tuna in water if you like, but I prefer the flavor tuna in oil adds.

Adjust ingredients as you please of course - less or more mayo, more tuna or eggs, whatever you like! Though I hope you'll try it once as written, I've included some of the typical add-ins that have appeared in more recent years in the cook's notes. Some will tell you it absolutely must have bell pepper. Others feel pickles are necessary. I say, let your imagination run free and make it your own.

I like to serve it right when I make it, when it's soft and creamy, but of course, refrigerate if your prefer it cold and be sure to refrigerate any leftovers. If there are any! Great as a side dish, main dish or just to grab a couple of spoonfuls throughout the day.

Here's how I make it.

Recipe: Old Fashioned Tuna Macaroni Salad

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 10 min
Total time: 20 min
Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 1/2 pound elbow (or shell) macaroni
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise, more or less
  • 1 hard boiled egg, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • Salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning and Old Bay, to taste
  • 1 to 2 (5 ounce) cans tuna in oil, undrained
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons pickle juice, optional

Prepare macaroni according to package directions; drain and place into storage or serving bowl. Immediately add mayonnaise and toss until well coated. Mix in the egg, celery and seasonings. Add the tuna and peas and gently fold in, adding pickle juice, if using, and/or additional mayonnaise if needed for desired moisture. Serve immediately. Refrigerate leftovers. Double or increase as desired.

Optional Add-ins: Chopped sweet onion, purple or green onion, chopped sweet or dill pickles or relish, chow chow, black or green pitted olives, sweet bell pepper, pimentos, chopped or shredded carrots, shredded cheese, 1-2 tablespoons of a creamy salad dressing, juice from a wedge or two of fresh lemon, splash of pickle juice or cider vinegar, chopped fresh parsley, dill, and paprika, are a few of the more common ones. Shredded iceberg lettuce was often used as an extender. May also substitute flaked salmon, boiled shrimp or shredded or chopped cooked chicken for the tuna. For a sweeter taste use a salad dressing like Miracle Whip, for the mayo, if you prefer.


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Posted by on August 3, 2015

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  1. Sounds really good Mary and something I haven't had in years - like the addition of the peas.

    1. Watch out Larry - you'll find yourself making it over and over like me lol!

  2. I call it tuna noodels lol! this is always been a good ole back up when I don't fee like cooking & need something quick, although I've never tried it with the peas


    1. oh & this is also great with the tri colored noodels, I'm sure that's not what they're called lol

    2. Rotini! Yes, any short cut type of pasta is good.

    3. Love this salad
      I was just looking at your cookbook and am loving the recipes. Think I will send one to my son in Texas who loves to cook southern foiod !!

  3. Great minds think a like... I just made this the other day almost exactly except I added minced shallots... And I put the peas in at the last minute remembering I actually had some in the freezer. Served with crackers and grape tomatoes & olives- perfect lite dinner for this heat we're having here in Chicago.

  4. As usual, you have my mouth watering. I have been making your "Fire and Ice Summer Salad" every week for the last 3, I think cooking the dressing is the key. Been so much fun cooking from your new cookbook and so proud of you and your much deserved success. From your "Mississippi" friend that lives in Loxley, Al.

    1. Thank you so much for such a sweet note this morning!!!

  5. I love tuna macaroni salad. My Mama used to make it like your recipe, but without the seasoning. I haven't made it in a long while but I think I will this weekend. It will be something different and easy to make.

  6. Oh my goodness! I had no idea that using tuna packed in oil rather than water would make such a difference! I grew up with the water-packed kind and just never thought about it. The flavor is 10x's better! This recipe is so wonderful, such simple ingredients but amazing flavor, it is addictive! My only complaint is that I could not figure out a way to get it in my mouth fast enough! lol! LOVE, LOVE your recipes! THANK YOU!

  7. I saw the pic for this when I came to check out the Super Creamy Mac and Cheese (Which will be trying soon!) *I don't know how you do it! My kids always ask me for my recipe's and I always have to tell them the "about's" about this much this and about that much of that.* The only other thing I do to the Tuna Macaroni Salad that is different (besides add onion and extra egg) is when I pour the macaroni into the strainer, I add the frozen peas to the macaroni, give it a stir and let it finish draining. Then put mac and peas and rest of ingredients all in a big bowl mix. Seems to give the peas a bigger pop and doesn't cool the macaroni down too much.....and I love to add some bite sized cubed cheese (Whatever have on hand) at the very end of mixing for my yummy work lunch-for as long as it lasts! Yum! Hungry for Both Now!

  8. Gonna make this for lunch. Love your recipes. Thank from someone learning to cook after retiring.

  9. instead of tuna try using tinned pink salmon and too this recipe add sliced raw mushrooms, spring onions and tomato,,

  10. I grew up eating tuna Macaroni salad. We didn't just have it for a summer salad. We had it on the table for every holiday. With a family of 9, it was very practical. As a kid, I always had to pick out the chopped up olives my father would put in his. As an adult, Whenever I made it, it always seemed to be missing something. Wouldn't you know, it was the olives. So mine always has olives in it too. I prefer diced green peppers to peas. I like the peas in my tuna casserole.

    1. Isn't it funny how that happens? My Mama loved coconut, but as a kid, I did not like it at all! As an adult, I love it. Who knew?


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