Italian Tuna Salad Recipe

One thing I’ve learned about Italians is that they love tuna. In Italy tuna is used in countless ways – in pasta, pizza, piadini, panini and much more. I still haven’t warmed up to the idea of tuna on pizza. I haven’t tried it so maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Unlike the U.S. where there are different kinds of canned tuna, here it is only available packed in olive oil. I love the taste of Italian tuna but I prefer to use a brand that packs their tuna in less oil.

A few years ago, an Italian friend made a version of this salad for me and we enjoyed it together on a hot summer day. I have seen many versions of tuna salad here in Italy. This version is definitely a veggie packed, healthy option. As summer approaches and temperatures rise, this is a perfect low carb meal to enjoy with a crisp white wine.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can change it according to your taste. If you don’t like chickpeas or prefer to use less red onion, by all means, change it and make it your own. This salad can be served on a bed of lettuce tossed with olive oil, or by itself. Buon appetito! 

Italian tuna salad recipe – serves 4


  • 10 oz  drained canned tuna (preferably packed in olive oil) 
  • 14 oz of chickpeas (drained)
  • 2 stalks of celery (chopped)
  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes (halved or quartered)
  • ½ a medium red onion (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons of flat leaf parsley (chopped) 
  • 1 teaspoon of whole grain mustard
  • 1-2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

HOw to Make Italian Tuna Salad:

In a bowl, mix mayonnaise, mustard and lemon juice. Add vegetables and tuna and mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on a bed of lettuce tossed with olive oil, or all by itself. Enjoy!


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  1. I love the tuna here. Particularly the Rio Mare one. My favorite is with cold rice. Like you described, it is best in hot summer with a crisp white wine. Just the same some ingredients can be add or let out:
    Boiled rice (uncle Ben is perfect), cocktail onions, giardiniera, egg(s) hard boiled, tuna. It is good the day after too.

    My second favorite is Salad Niçoise, which has tuna, a boiled potato, lettuce, tomatoes. There are a lot of variations too. Ah, and a couple of anchovies too.

    Americans don’t like anchovies, but they don’t know what they are missing. 😉

    1. The salad Nicoise is my summertime favorite! I’ve had many versions of the Insalata di Riso but I haven’t found one that I love yet. I’ll try your suggestions. Thanks!

  2. BTW: try a fresh panino. Like a fragrant “Rosetta”, cut it in half, stuff it with tuna (in olive oil), just put as much as you can handle to eat without making a mess, same for the olive oil, not too much or it become a mess. And enjoy.
    But it is a panino made in heaven!

  3. I’m curious if you always use garbanzo beans or would another white bean be acceptable and still considered Italian?

    1. I’ve seen many different versions of tuna salad here. Some use mayonnaise and others only use olive oil. I was surprised to see how often they use mayonnaise in their dishes.

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