Tuna Salad with Apple

She went into the kitchen and opened the cupboard without even taking her jacket off. She found some tuna and ate it straight from the tin without draining off the oil. The smell made her feel sick. She threw the empty tin into the sink and picked up a tin of peas. With her fork she fished them from the cloudy water and ate half of them, without breathing.

Paolo Giordano, The Solitude of Prime Numbers (2008), 337

At the moment of writing this post, the world is fueled by coronavirus fears. Now that many of us are either voluntarily, or involuntarily quarantining because of measurements taken against the Covid-19 pandemic, and with many people freaking out and over-buying toilet paper and pasta and basically emptying shelves at supermarkets all over the globe, it’s about time for canned food to be put back into the spotlight! 


In the citation (above) from Paolo Giordano’s The Solitude of Prime Numbers (2008), canned food is initially described as sickening and “[tasting] of sand” (337). Canned food, here, from the perspective of the (notably anorexic) protagonist, symbolises only something nurturing at it’s most basic, or even debased level: it’s something unenjoyable, a thing eaten in solitude when one is at his or her lowest point and feeling “a vague sense of weariness, orchestrated by the hunger that had clenched at her temples for days” (337).

Indeed, even outside of the literary world, canned food – tuna in particular – has garnered a little bit of a bad rep in these days of plenty with many people focusing on eating healthily and clean. Sure, I too prefer cooking with fresh produce on most days, but this is a luxury that can’t always be afforded budget-wise, time-wise, or, as is the case now: fresh produce simply is not all that practical when one is trying to avoid going to the supermarket. I believe, in opposition to the way Giordano’s novel describes canned food, canned food can also embody a kind of reassurance and comfort and when it’s combined with just a few basic fridge-stable and pantry ingredients you might already have laying around the house, you can definitely turn a simple can of tuna into a delicious, refreshing, kind-of-healthy, filling meal!

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Canned tuna has been around for little over a century and tuna salad has been a staple in many households for years, so I am well aware that there are thousands of recipes for this popular budget-friendly dish… yet, I am still sharing mine! 
In my tuna salad, flaky canned tuna is mixed with crisp, tart apples, sweet and sour pickles, salty capers, creamy mayonnaise and a bit of spicy mustard. Perfect for some tuna salad sandwiches, or bagels, but also great as a standalone meal for two when it’s combined with some crisp lettuce leaves, or a handful of cooked pasta.

These days this tuna salad recipe is yet again one of my go-to lunches! Honestly? I’m kind of loving it again and wonder why I ever stopped eating tuna salad (and other canned fish) sandwiches in the first place. Long live pantry meals!


Note: The recipe below suggests you use this tuna salad as a sandwich topping (making 4 sandwiches), but, of course, you don’t have to serve this salad on bread, neither do you have to share it with three other people! To turn this salad into a lunch, or light dinner for two, eat it with some crisp lettuce leaves, or add an extra tablespoon of mayonnaise and stir in a handful of cooked pasta!


Works Cited
Shaun, Whiteside, translator. The Solitude of Prime Numbers. By Paolo Giordano, Black Swan, 2009.


Tuna Salad with Apple

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  • DF
Simple tuna salad for sandwiches, or pasta salad.
  • Difficulty:Easy
  • Prep Time:10 mins
  • Cook Time:3 mins
  • Serves:4
  • Freezable:No

Nutrition per portion

  • 1 small can tuna (preferably packaged in water), about 140g drained
  • ½ firm apple
  • ½ small yellow-, or red onion
  • 75g dill pickles
  • 1 teaspoon salted capers
  • 4 - 5 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon mild whole grain mustard, or ½ tablespoon mild coarse mustard*
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • -
  • 4 bagels, buns, or 8 slices of crusty bread, or a handful of cooked pasta (optional)
  • *Don’t use a mustard that is too spicy, or strong flavored, or try to add only a teaspoon at first and have a taste. The flavor shouldn't be too overwhelming.
Yields: enough topping for 4 sandwiches, or 1 - 2 (pasta) salads.
  1. Drain: Open the can of tuna and tip contents into a fine mesh sieve over the sink, or a bowl. Leave in the fine mesh sieve to drain away as much of the liquid as possible.
  2. Chop ingredients: Finely dice the apple, the onion and the dill pickles. Add to a bowl.
  3. Mix ingredients: Add the very well drained tuna to the bowl with the chopped fruit and veg and stir in the capers, mayonnaise, whole grain mustard and freshly cracked black pepper. Stir until all ingredients are well combined
Optional Serving suggestions: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Cut the bagels, or buns in half and lightly toast cut-side-up in the preheated oven for 2 – 3 minutes. When using slices of crusty bread, toasting is optional. To serve, divide the tuna salad over 4 bagel halves, or 4 slices of bread and cover with the tops of the bagels, or remaining slices of bread. Alternatively, serve the tuna salad with some lettuce leaves, or a handful of cooked pasta.

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