Using two basic pantry items—tuna and brown rice – plus capers, good quality chopped olives, frozen mixed vegetables and fresh lemon juice, you can create this easy, make-ahead, healthy salad loaded with flavor and perfect to pack for lunch or a picnic!
As a test, I left one refrigerated in a jar overnight to take to the beach. The next day I had it for lunch and thought it tasted even better as the flavors had a chance to meld.
This was inspired by an imported can of Rio Mare Italian Riso e Tonno someone brought back from Italy. The flavors were SO good, I wanted more so I set out to replicate the same exact flavor using brown rice instead.
Believe it or not, it took me a few attempts to get it JUST right. Here's what I did – first attempt I used plain canned albacore tuna packed in water with canned black olives and all the other ingredients listed below – it was pretty dry and lacked the flavor I was trying to match. I went back to the store and picked up some canned Italian tuna packed in olive oil (I was adding oil to the salad anyway) and good quality olives. Tonno Genova was the brand of tuna I bought, it's a little pricier than regular tuna but not by much. Each can cost me three dollars and was available in my local supermarket. I believe it's also available in Costco and Walmart, you can also buy it by the case on Amazon. Amazing the difference it makes in flavor and it wasn't dry at all. I drained the tuna really well and reserved some of the olive oil to add to my salad – winner!
So for those of you who are going to ask me can you use canned tuna packed in water or canned black olives – the answer is yes, but it won't taste as good as my final recipe. Up to you!
Italian Tuna and Rice Salad
Servings: 4 • Size: 1 cup • Old Points: 3 • Points+: 4 pt • Smart Points: 5
Calories: 157.5 • Fat: 5.5 g • Protein: 10.5 g • Carb: 17 g • Fiber: 3 g • Sugar: 0 g
Sodium: 240 mg • Cholesterol: 5 mg
- 2 cans (4 oz each drained) Italian premium yellowfin canned tuna in oil, drained
- 1 cup cooked and cooled brown rice
- 8 oz frozen classic mixed vegetables (Bird's Eye) cooked and cooled
- 1/4 cup good quality sliced black olives
- 2 tbsp drained capers (plus 1 tbsp of the brine)
- 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil (I used from the can)
Drain the tuna well reserving the oil and set the oil aside.
In a large work bowl, combine the rice, drained tuna, vegetables, black olives, capers and bell pepper. Pour 1 tablespoon of the brine from the capers into the bowl along with the juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 tablespoon of the oil and toss well.