How else can I make tuna salad?
October 30, 2012 6:23 AM   Subscribe

As somebody who is trying to change what he eats to better choices I still love some tuna salad, but really get skeezed out by the Mayonaise now. I've been looking for some alternative binder for my tuna when I want to make a sandwich. What else can I use to make tuna salad?
posted by warthurton to Food & Drink (37 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Avocado! (yum)
posted by Balonious Assault at 6:25 AM on October 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

Buy tuna in oil. Add some red wine vinegar, olives and capers. Place on bread.
posted by thecaddy at 6:26 AM on October 30, 2012 [11 favorites]

Greek yogurt or hummus.
posted by neda at 6:26 AM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Cottage cheese! (This also helps with the disgusting slime factor in cottage cheese.)
posted by SeedStitch at 6:27 AM on October 30, 2012

well we eat tuna salad all the time made with vegetable/olive oil.

ok now I see thecaddy has mentioned oil. if you buy tuna canned in water, and drain out the water but mix in some oil, you'll probably end up consuming a bit less oil.
posted by saraindc at 6:28 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Are you skeezed out by mayonaise in general and willing to go to a store to pick up an alternative? Or looking for something already in your fridge? Really what you are looking for is an alternative fat/oil.

Capers and olive oil would work great
posted by Blasdelb at 6:28 AM on October 30, 2012

also, if you're still concerned about binding after adding oil, you can add some other spread to your sandwich. We've been adding a homemade tomato paste (more like a chutney) to the bread in our tuna sandwiches and it tastes really good.
posted by saraindc at 6:29 AM on October 30, 2012

Plain greek 0% fat yogurt! I mix about 4 parts greek yogurt to 1 part light mayo to make tuna and chicken salad. Lemon goes well in tuna salad as well. (I sprinkle some fresh lemon juice on the tuna and mix it in before adding the yogurt and mayo. (Cumin or yellow curry goes well with chicken salad, and dill goes really well with tuna salad.)

Greek yogurt with a little avocado mixed in sounds really good, too!
posted by shortyJBot at 6:30 AM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Homemade olive oil mayo?
posted by ijoyner at 6:31 AM on October 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

Olive oil, small canned beans of your choice, fresh dill and lemon juice. So awesome!
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 6:38 AM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Make tzatziki.

Om, nom, nom.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:41 AM on October 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

My favorite tuna mixture: sesame oil, bit of soy sauce, wasabi, maybe some finely cut radish or other crunchy veggie.
posted by ActionPopulated at 6:42 AM on October 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

Yeah, it'd be good to know why you're avoiding mayo. Trying to eat less fat? Less cholesterol? Fewer things out of jars? Just aren't into the flavor anymore? There are so many different ideas out there of what "eating well" means that just telling us you're looking for a better choice is pretty ambiguous.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:42 AM on October 30, 2012

Depending on how much you like mustard, you might be able to replace the mayo with mustard.
posted by Apoch at 6:49 AM on October 30, 2012

Response by poster: I avoid mayo because of many of the reasons that have been mentioned. I need to have less fat & less things out of a jar/foil packet/tube/sqeeze/etc. I understand that when it comes to prepared food Mayo is closer to "regular ingredients" than many others. A few years ago a place put mayo on the bread of a tuna sandwich that I purchased. It was so sickening to me that I can't really eat may without getting that same feeling. (weird I know). Plus I feel that tuna could use something a bit more complementary than Mayo. Thanks for all the ideas so far BTW. Oh and I love Dijon mustards whole seed & creamy and have replace mayo on other sandwiches where people would use mustard.
posted by warthurton at 6:53 AM on October 30, 2012

Nthing greek yogurt. ActionPopulated's sesame-soy is another one that I use; it's excellent in onigiri! You can mix mustard with olive oil and red wine vinegar for a tangy tuna salad. Low-fat italian dressing is another easy one. Or if you're feeling extra crazy, you can add crushed pineapple (drained) and hot sauce.
posted by specialagentwebb at 6:55 AM on October 30, 2012

I hate mayo, so I use either plain yogurt and mustard or plain yogurt and dill with fresh cucumbers.
posted by betweenthebars at 7:09 AM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I just never have mayo in the house, so I generally use plain yogurt + mustard (grainy mustard is great here) + whatever other spices I'm in the mood for (often cumin).
posted by SoftRain at 7:17 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Homemade mayo is a wonderful's relatively easy to make in a blender. Suggest you try it at least once.
posted by crazycanuck at 7:21 AM on October 30, 2012

I think your search term/style here is Nicoise. I like to make a Nicoise-type tuna salad instead of mayo: olive oil, lemon, capers, maybe some diced shallots, and if I'm feeling really fancy, rough-chopped hard-boiled eggs.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:21 AM on October 30, 2012 [7 favorites]

If you make a vinaigrette starting with a big gob of Dijon mustard, you can get it to have something like the consistency of mayo, but not the flavor (or un-flavor). But still high in the oil department.
posted by mr vino at 7:24 AM on October 30, 2012

Seconding avocado! I also like to add a squeeze of lime, and you can add tomatoes and onions and go for the full guacamole experience.
posted by fermezporte at 8:00 AM on October 30, 2012

If you get tuna in olive oil it doesn't really need any extra binder. You can get ones that are already flavoured in the oil My mum used to mash smoked fish into a little bit butter to make sort of a fishy pasty spread that would work with tuna I am sure, though not really cut back your fat, but if its a taste or texture thing it's another option.
posted by wwax at 8:05 AM on October 30, 2012

Today for lunch I had tuna with steamed purple broccoli and pre home made pesto stirred through. Quick, cheap and delicious.

For the pesto just chuck a big handful of parsley (i prefer flat leaf ) or basil into a blender along with a slightly less amount of walnuts (or pine nuts which is tastier but more expensive) a garlic clove (or not if you don't like garlic) similar amount of grated Parmesan (or any other hard cheese) a good glug of olive oil and some salt, sea salt if you have it.

Whiz till its a paste then add a splash of lemon juice to give it a wee zing. You now have a beautiful pesto for your salad, for your pasta, for your soup, your bruscetta, tasty with plain steamed veg.. so versatile.

If you don't have a blender can be done with mortar and pestel but will take longer by hand.
posted by kudra23 at 8:05 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

It doesn't really help on the less-processed front, but reduced fat ranch dressing makes for a delicious tuna salad binder, with a lot fewer calories and less fat. Plus it works really well with extra veggies in your tuna salad. I like to mince up carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and/or whatever other crunchy veggies are in the fridge to mix in. Just make them really small, so they don't overwhelm your sandwich.
posted by vytae at 8:32 AM on October 30, 2012

It sounds vile, but it's actually delicious: Mix tuna with COTTAGE CHEESE, pepper and a pinch of dill.

Mixing with mustard and celery is also really good.
posted by floweredfish at 8:41 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sour cream?
posted by Neekee at 8:52 AM on October 30, 2012

I loves me some seafood sauce as a binder for everything.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 8:53 AM on October 30, 2012

If you're worried about things in jars, have you considered making your own mayonnaise ?.
posted by Comrade_robot at 9:20 AM on October 30, 2012

This thread has a few other suggestions on how to "hack" tuna salad.
posted by knile at 9:33 AM on October 30, 2012

Mayo also skeezes me out so I've been a lifelong eater of tuna straight from the can. It generally stays in plays as long as you smush down the edges of your bread/toast a bit, or eat it in a pita.
posted by jabes at 10:19 AM on October 30, 2012

The best tuna sandwich in the world is grainy bread, tuna with olive oil (either packed in oil or packed in water and tossed with oil,) dijon mustard or grainy mustard, a slice of swiss cheese, and veggies (alfalfa sprouts, cucumber slices, tomato slices, etc). Super flavourful, doesn't rely on the mayo or oil to be star of the show, and has lots of different flavours in each bite.

I also found it not-so-hard to have this with just plain drained water-packed tuna.
posted by Kololo at 10:41 AM on October 30, 2012

I like sour cream a lot - not sure if it's any healthier, though.
posted by randomnity at 10:42 AM on October 30, 2012

I make it with sour cream and mustard and a dash of cayenne. This is the recipe I started from. I wing it from there.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:16 AM on October 30, 2012

Lemon juice! Buy the oil-packed kind (water-packed plus oil doesn't taste the same at all) and add lemon juice, lemon zest, chopped red onion, chopped kalamata olives, and walnut bits. So good. The lemon really cuts the . . . . tuna-ness . . . of the tuna and makes it refreshing.
posted by ostro at 4:26 PM on October 30, 2012

Olive oil, lemon, tarragon and garlic. If you like olives and capers, you'd throw them in too, and then you'd be getting close to a salad ni├žoise, especially if you added anchovies.

Caramelized onions are wonderful on top of tuna salad, and I bet they'd be great as a substitute for mayonnaise, not that you'd mix them in, but lay them on top of ordinary tuna canned in oil on a sandwich.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:53 PM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

This really works best in a food processor (even a manual one) but you could do it all by hand:

Put tuna in the food processor and pulse one or twice. (You really need to use solid tuna, not chunk, which is already a mush.) Throw hard add-ins like celery and onion into the bowl and pulse a few more times. It's not an exact science, you just want to err on the side of under-processing because the next step will add a lot of moisture and you don't want mush. (Unless you want mush, of course.) Finally, de-seed a tomato and discard the liquid inside. Chop into a large dice, add it to the rest of the tuna, give it a few more pulses and you will have tuna that is as moist as if it had been made with mayo. Fold in any other ingredients, season, and serve.

I discovered this by accident and it's really delicious. The key here is processing the tuna and tomato together; when I make it now I only pulse the tuna and tomato; I then fold in sliced scallions, a little lemon zest, maybe some capers, and my new favorite tuna salad ingredient, seeded and diced cucumber*. But once you get the tuna and tomato you can treat it like

*Seriously, if you like a little crunch in your tuna this is a million times better celery. Try it!
posted by Room 641-A at 8:01 AM on October 31, 2012

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