spicy tuna salad

spicy tuna salad

Not your Momma’s tuna salad!


Do you like tuna salad?  Not that perfectly seared ahi perched atop a mound of lightly dressed mesclun greens with wasabi and pickled ginger.  No, not that one.  Just a plain old made-from-canned-tuna salad.  Nestled between two slices of toast, with a little vedge for color and crunch.  I don’t know why, but this is the embodiment of lunch-time comfort food to me.


You might be wondering why I would bother sharing a recipe for tuna salad.  Most people make their tuna according to their own tastes – as it should be.  I had been making mine the same way for years, until one day when I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand.   Like lemons.  Or parsley.  I had to make do with what was available and surprise, surprise.  I landed on a combination that the whole family actually prefers.  Serendipity.


Limes, cilantro, jalapeños and a good dose of hot sauce.  Who woulda thunk it?  This combination is so fresh and light that it just begs for a slice of toasted or grilled sourdough bread.  Add some crispy sliced cucumber, ripe tomato, buttery avocado and a little fresh-from-the-garden lettuce and you’ve got the makings of heaven between two crusts.


 Of course everything here can be adjusted to your tastes.  Not a huge fan of spice?  Cut back on the jalapeño and hot sauce (though, I have to say, it’s soooo good).  Like a creamier tuna?  Add more mayo.  I know there are countless variations, and I’m happy to try them all, but when I’m looking for a satisfying fail-safe.  This is it.


spicy tuna salad


spicy tuna salad
Serves 6
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Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
  1. 3 7-ounce cans tuna packed in water, well-drained, flaked with a fork
  2. 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  3. 1/2 medium sweet onion, finely diced (vidalia are good here)
  4. 1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, minced
  5. 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  6. 1 lime, zested and juiced
  7. 1/2 -3/4 cup mayonnaise (according to your tastes)
  8. 1/2 teaspoon of habanero hot sauce
  9. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  10. salt to taste
Suggestions for sandwiches
  1. 12 slices good sourdough bread or english muffins, toasted or grilled
  2. 1 ripe tomato, thinly sliced
  3. 1/2 english cucumber, thinly sliced
  4. lettuce leaves
  5. 1 ripe haas avocado, peeled, thinly sliced
  6. additional cilantro and jalapeño, if desired
  1. Combine celery, onion, jalapeño and lime zest in a medium bowl. Add mayonnaise, lime juice and hot sauce. Stir to combine. Mix in black pepper. Add tuna to mayonnaise mixture and stir until combined. Add cilantro, mix well. Chill until ready to serve.
  2. To assemble sandwiches, place bread on a cutting board and add lettuce, cucumber slices, tomato and avocado. Top with a generous scoop of tuna salad and additional fresh cilantro leaves and jalapeño slices if desired. You can eat this as an open-faced "knife and fork" sandwich or top with another slice of bread for a two handed eat-it-over-your-plate wonder!
  1. (I used Kirkland brand-- I think it actually has more tuna in it than some of the national brands -- go figure)
Garlic + Zest http://www.garlicandzest.com/

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