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Quick & Simple Meals with Canned Tuna

I learned years ago that for a quick and simple meal, you need look no further than the can of tuna in your pantry.

I remember watching my father quickly transform what he called a “canna tuner” into a gorgeous salad filled with leafy greens, plenty of his beloved “tamaters” and his favorite marinated artichoke hearts.

Turned out tuna was not just for sandwiches! In fact, it’s perfect for appetizers, soups, main dishes, casseroles, pasta dishes and all kinds of salads. Did you know that canned tuna has been around for nearly 110 years? First marketed in 1903, it quickly gained popularity that has yet to decline. Tuna consistently makes the top-choices list for “best canned items” to keep on hand.

You’ll find canned tuna packed in water, oil or brine; it can be salted or unsalted; and you can choose the variety of tuna you want. Here’s a quick list:

  • Albacore tuna is probably the most popular, and in the US can be canned and sold under the name “white meat tuna.” It has a firm texture and clean (not too fishy) taste.
  • Tongol tuna is often labeled as “canned light tuna.” It is slightly darker and a bit moister than albacore tuna.
  • Skipjack tuna is common in tropical waters. It is very flavorful and light in color.

Our grocery team has done a lot of work toward sustainable sourcing of canned tuna and continues to work hard to source responsibly in this category.

For example, Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value® canned tuna (both skipjack and albacore tuna) is 100% pole or troll-caught.

And one of our major canned brands, American Tuna, is MSC-certified pole-caught albacore. Furthermore, other major brands are using only pole-caught albacore tuna from the US Pacific Northwest and other North Pacific and North Atlantic pole and troll fisheries.

Here are some choice ideas for canned tuna:

  • A tuna sandwich is always great, but especially so when spruced up with fresh chopped raw veggies such as carrots, celery, onion, radish, zucchini and parsley. It’s equally delicious with fruit such as chopped apples, grapes, pears or dried fruits, and nuts such as walnuts, pecans or sunflower seeds. For something different, season with curry powder or other favorite spices. Here is our Kid-Friendly Tuna Salad with Almonds and Raisins.  And here is our Tangy Curry Tuna Sandwich recipe.
  • Got a gorgeous green salad for lunch? Top it with a can of your favorite tuna. Scatter on some dried cranberries and a few chopped roasted nuts.
  • Bake canned tuna into vegetable casseroles.
  • Tuna salad does not always require mayonnaise. This Fresh Tuna Salad with Pineapple is refreshing and a cinch to make when substituting canned tuna.
  • Cook up some hot pasta; add canned tuna and favorite veggies. Toss with a delicious vinaigrette. Try this Sweet and Spicy Tuna Rigatoni.
  • Here is an Old Fashioned Tuna Noodle Casserole.
  • Mix tuna with canned or freshly cooked legumes. One of our favorites is Tuna with White Beans. Another is our Tuscan Tuna Salad with Cannellini Beans.
  • Make tuna salad and use as a dip for cut veggies and whole grain crackers.
  • Mix tuna, potato, boiled eggs and green peas with either mayonnaise or any favorite salad dressing – try this on crackers, bread or leafy greens.
  • Make Tuna Nicoise a little faster by using canned tuna in this recipe.
  • Add canned tuna to cooked whole grains including brown rice, quinoa, tabouli and kasha. Try our Tuna Tabouli.
  • Make a tuna melt by spreading tuna salad on bread. Top with cheese and broil just until the cheese melts. This is a quick favorite and especially delicious when paired with a lightly-dressed fresh leafy green salad.
  • Canned tuna is wonderful added to cheese soups and bisques. It’s equally delicious in Mediterranean-style soups and stews made with garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, olives and onions.

Please note: If you are a pregnant woman, a woman of childbearing age who may become pregnant, a nursing mother, or a child, the FDA and EPA advise against eating fish that might contain high levels of mercury.

Since canned light tuna is processed from smaller varieties of tuna, it will have less mercury than either canned albacore ("white") tuna or tuna steaks/fillets.

Accordingly, the FDA and EPA advise limiting intake of both albacore tuna and tuna steaks/fillets to up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of tuna steak eaten per week. Learn more about Methylmercury in Seafood.

Do you have a terrific tuna recipe? I’d love to know.

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vered says …

I love canned tuna - it's cheap, healthy and versatile.

paig292 says …

@Vered From Whole Foods Market Team Member: Not sure what happened with your original comment but thanks for resubmitting and including the link to your tuna cakes. Look delicious!

vered says …

Hi Alana, Why did you edit my comment so as not to publish the link to my tuna cakes recipe? Is it irrelevant to the blog post? Is it spam? You asked if we have a terrific tuna recipe and yes I do - I have a great recipe that I'd dearly love to share. Here it is, again: http://healthyrecipesblogs.com/2012/03/12/tuna-cakes/ Thanks Vered

JIm says …

I wish Whole Foods 365 canned tuna came in BPA-free cans, as other companies now offer.

Cindy says …

Tuna fish casserole 1can mushroom constratate soup 1/2 to 1can milk 1 to 2 cans of favorite tuna fish w/water 1-- 12 oz regular potatoe chips, your favorite chip 1/2 cup sharp or favorite graded cheese. Add chips to casserole dish, crush chips, mix Soup and milk then pour over chips Add tuna w/ water, mix tuna in w/chips. Bake @ 350 deg for 30 min, stir 1to 2 times When baking, LAST 10 min sprinkle top w/ favorite sharp cheese. Serve bubbling hot to your family. Enjoy....

Frank says …

I'm trying to eliminate bread/gluten from my diet so to replace my beloved tuna salad sandwiches, I like to make tuna salad (either dill or sweet relish, mayo, tuna, fresh ground pepper) and put a heaping spoonful in a half of a romaine leaf- very crunchy, tasty and satisfying- and gluten free too!

Diva904 says …

Excellent article! I have so many cans of tuna that I can now put to great use. I was a strictly tuna-salad-type gal, but not anymore! @Vered: I checked out the link you provided and my son and I are eager to try the recipe. Thanks!

Mandie says …

Curry Tuna Casserole: 1 can Albacore tuna, shredded into bite size pieces 1 can cream of mushroom or cream of celery 1 can of no salt added green peas 1-3 tbsp curry powder depending on your preference Combine all these ingredients in a medium saucepan until heated through. Mean while cook 1/2 pack egg noodles according to package. Combine egg noodles and tuna mixture in a large casserole dish. Top with fried onions (optional) and broil until golden brown (1-4 mins depending on broiler temp.) Really great recipe for people who don't love tuna - my fiance BEGS for this dish and is an fierce canned tuna hater. Enjoy!

Vincent says …

I love Tuna but it's over fished and the Tuna population is on the verge of collapse. We should not eat Tuna. At least not for a couple of years. Besides the canned varieties often contain more salt than what's good for you. Stores like Wholefoods should take the lead in this debate. Vincent

says …

@Amy That sounds amazing! I'll have to try your girlfriend's recipe this weekend.

Amy says …

My girlfriend from Mexico makes a great tuna recipe. It is sort of a ceviche style salad. Add 2 cans tuna to one small package steamed corn(cooled) or 15 oz can of sweet corn(drained). Then add 2 roma tomatoes(seeded & chopped) 1-2 fresh jalapenos(seeded and chopped) then mix together with the juice of two limes. Add a can of rinsed and drained black beans(optional).Serve with tostadas or tortilla chips. Delicious!

savannah says …

what happens when a door closes the world may never know ha ha lolz

Mounti says …

Tuna burgers and fried tuna tacos. Tuna burgers: 2 cans of tuna green onions (chopped, the green and white parts) half a cup of sour cream 1 cup of bread crumbs 1 egg dillweed salt and pepper to taste butter for frying Mix all together and fry in butter. That's it. Fast and deli! Fried tuna tacos: 3-4 cans of tuna (drained) half a white onion (chopped) 3 tomatoes (chopped) 4 chiles serrano (seeded and chopped) some parsley 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce juice from 2 limes salt and pepper to taste tortillas sautee the onions, tomatoes and chiles, add drained tuna and the rest of the ingredientes. Cook on low-med heat until it's cooked. Put it aside and let it cool down. Meanwhile heat the tortillas, stuff them with the tuna and roll the tortillas. Fry the tacos in a little oil, just so that they're crispy. Serve with sour cream and/or guacamole.

john pennino says …

Do you sell Calliope tun

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JOHN - Our products vary between stores so check with your local store to see what they have in stock!

richard says …


Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@RICHARD - Most stores should carry this brand but exact products can differ between stores. Check with your local store directly to see exactly what they have in stock!

Vikki says …

You make and sell a mediterranian tuna Saladin your deli. It is delicious with olives, artichokes. I have not been able to find the recipe or nutritional info on the website or the container. Can you guide me to that info.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@VIKKI - Since this is a dish made in house, the store will be the best option to find a recipe. Also, if they have nutritional info on the dish, they'll be happy to share that as well.

Rick Holland says …

Do you have the recipe for the Whole foods traditional tuna salad. Not the one with the cranberries. Just the traditional tuna salad that I buy at whole foods. I would really appreciated it. thanks. Rick Holland

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@RICK - We don't have the exact recipes for dishes made in house. Check with your local store, if they have a recipe, they will be happy to share it!