Italian Tuna Pasta Salad without Mayo

zesty Italian tuna pasta salad recipe
The beautiful, zesty Italian pasta salad is easy and quick to prepare.

This Italian tuna pasta salad without mayonnaise is a simple, healthy and delicious pasta salad made with a fresh citrus dressing, packed with flavors. Easy and quick to prepare, great for meal prep, delicious the next day unfortunately we almost never have any left overs!

jump to recipe italian tuna pasta salad

Quick, easy and bursting with flavor; just mix tuna, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, black olives, cucumbers, red onion, fresh parsley, thyme, salt and pepper and sprinkle wit the fresh vinaigrette. We love the bright green home made salad dressing filled with herbs, olive oil and lemon juice. It is a family favorite and we can usually make some version of this salad for lunch with what we have in the kitchen. For me it salad tastes the best after being in the refrigerator for a couple of hours and left overs almost never make it through the night, with someone finishing it off during a fridge run before morning! We based this recipe on our favorite Italian pasta salad, swopping the fermented meats (like salami) for tuna and adjusting the vinaigrette. The zesty dressing is simple, just mix olive oil, white wine vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, salt with some herbs and spices by combining it in a blender.

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If you like a more creamy tuna pasta salad, see our Healthy Tuna Pasta Salad; a simple, delicious, creamy pasta salad made with tuna, Greek yoghurt (or sour cream), peas and parmesan cheese.

How to Make this healthy tuna pasta salad

This salad is very easy to prepare, simply throw together together all the salad ingredients. Cook your pasta just past al dente. Make this awesome bright green basil vinaigrette by mixing and chopping all the dressing ingredients in a blender. Mix the all the salad ingredients; pasta, tuna, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, black olives, cucumbers, red onion, fresh parsley, basil, salt and pepper sprinkle with the dressing and toss.

Variations in this italian tuna pasta salad

This is a simple throw together salad and you can add any ingredients that you love; avocado cubes, corn and broccoli all are delicious in this mix. If you want to add some leaves, a handful of arugula (rocket) with its spicy taste or baby spinach are good options to consider.

zesty Italian tuna pasta salad recipe
The beautiful, zesty Italian pasta salad is easy and quick to prepare.

The Pasta

  • Use any shell type pasta. I like using the tri-color bow ties (farafalle) in this pasta salad, the shape just works and it is nice and colorful, but cork screw (fusilli), small shells (conchiglie), penne, elbow macaroni or any other pasta shape is good. For a healthy carb option use whole grain pasta.

The Cheese

  • I love the hard texture and nutty taste of parmesan in this salad. Parmesan is low in fat and basically free of carbs. Lactose-free, packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and fat, it is a healthy ingredient in salads. Mozzarella is another healthy cheese to add, it is lower in sodium and calories than most other cheeses. 

Mature cheddar, grated or cut into cubes is a delicious alternative to use as cheese in the salad.

The Dressing

Want to alter this beautiful vivid green basil parsley vinaigrette?

You can sweeten the dressing by adding a teaspoon of honey.

Prefer a creamy pasta salad? Take a look at our creamy tuna pasta salad, keeping it healthy without mayonnaise by using Greek yoghurt in this delicious healthy and creamy dressing.

tuna pasta salad vinaigrette
Beautiful vivid green basil parsley vinaigrette for tuna pasta salad. In a blender mix; olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, basil, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper

The Tuna 

  • Tuna in water also works, but I like to use tuna in olive oil. The extra bit of oiliness is delicious, we drain the oil from the tuna to make sure the salad does not drift in oil.
  • There are many different species of tuna and any canned tuna will be fine in this pasta salad. Tuna cans labelled “white” is albacore tuna, “light” is skipjack tuna and “premium,” “gourmet” or “tonno” tuna is usually yellowfin tuna. Albacore tuna (white) is high quality fish and probably the most popular tuna to use in salads, so if you go and shop for tuna to make this salad, Albacore tuna would be the first choice.
  • Skipjack tuna is a smaller fish and consequently it has a lower mercury content than Albacore or Yellowfin, so this is a good kind of tuna to use for pregnant women. 

Make it spicy

  • If everyone likes spicy food, you can add a little bit of heat by adding adding some jalapenos to this zesty tuna pasta salad.
Ingredients to make this healthy and delicious pasta salad; tuna, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, black olives, cucumber, red onion, fresh parsley, salt and pepper, thyme, parsley olive oil and lemon juice.

Italian Tuna Pasta Salad no Mayo

A zesty Italian tuna pasta salad made with tuna and a bright green home made citrus salad dressing.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Salad
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 455 kcal


  • 200 grams pasta (farfalle or fusilli works well) 2 cups
  • 120 grams tuna in olive oil (1 can) drained
  • 110 grams mozzarella cheese balls (1 cup)
  • 150 grams cherry tomatoes (1 cup)
  • 30 grams black olives pitted, chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 40 grams red onion, chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 40 grams bell pepper, chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 75 grams English cucumber diced (1/3 of med cucumber)
  • 7 grams Parsley, fresh chopped (2 tbsp)
  • 1.8 grams Thyme fresh (2 tbsp)

Salad Dressing

  • 45 ml extra virgin olive oil (3 tbsp)
  • 30 ml lemon juice (2 tbsp) 1/2 avg size lemon
  • 15 ml white wine vinegar
  • 5 to 10 grams garlic (1 clove)
  • 5 grams fresh basil (2 tbsp)
  • 7 gram fresh parsley chopped (2 tbsp)
  • 1/2 tspn oregano dry
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper


Boil Pasta

  • Bring water to the boil in a large pot, add pasta to the water. Boil your pasta 1 minute longer than al dente (10 to 12 minutes, not too soft). Drain and rinse under cold water.

Salad Dressing

  • Mix all the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until herbs is chopped up.

Make the salad

  • Tuna – drain olive oil and flake in a bowl
  • Add tuna and all the prepared ingredients to the pasta.
  • Sprinkle with salad dressing.
  • Toss the salad.
Keyword italian, pasta, tuna

Italian Tuna Pasta Salad Nutrition

zesty italian tuna salad
This flavorful Italian tuna pasta salad with the delicious easy home made citrus/herbaceous dressing is a family favorite in our house.

Nutritional data was calculated with an online tool and can be verified using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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