Sunday, January 8, 2012

Savory-Sweet Tuna Salad

I'm not sure when I had my tuna salad epiphany, but I'm glad that I did.  As a kid, I wasn't a big fan of tuna in general, let alone in tuna salad.  At some point, I came to my senses on both accounts.  It may be all the fault of a breakfast place and a different sandwich entirely.

There's a local chain in Chicagoland called Egg Harbor.  They mostly serve really fantastic breakfast, but they have some lunch items, too.  Their chicken salad sandwich is really fantastic.  It was my first experience with a sweet chicken salad.  It has lots of good stuff in there beyond just chicken and mayonnaise: I remember pecans, dried cranberries, and apple in particular.  It's quite sweet, but really very tasty.

Out here in Ohio, there's not an Egg Harbor to be found, but that's hardly going to stop me from working to recreate that flavor profile.  This recipe works just as well with chicken, but I think it really shines with tuna.  I think tuna demands a bit more of a savory touch than chicken, so I've forgone the apple and added some savory spicing for this tuna salad recipe.  It's an easy standby to make with ingredients that I almost always have in the cupboard.  I really suggest you give it a try!

Our salad is composed of tuna, mayonnaise, mustard, slivered or sliced almonds, sweet or red onion, and dried cranberries.  The flavors are boosted by seasoning with Herbes de Provence, coriander, salt, and pepper.  That's it!  The seasonings can be adjusted, but I find that they work nicely to balance out the sweetness of the cranberry and add some nice complexity.

To serve the salad, you can use as little as a couple of slices of bread, or you add cheese for a tuna melt.  Topping things off with some greens or sprouts is particularly nice, too.

First, toast up some almonds.  For a large can of tuna, use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of almonds depending on how much crunch you want in your sandwich - I prefer more like 1/2 cup.

Finely dice a sweet onion.  Again, the amount to be used can vary depending on your taste.  I used about 2/3 of a large onion.

Open and drain your tuna.  If you have a cat, no doubt he or she noticed this and came running.  Be nice and offer a bite or two.

Combine the tuna and onion in a bowl.

Now add the toasted almonds and dried cranberries - again, 1/4 to 1/2 cup depending on your taste.  As usual, I go for the higher amount.  Give everything a quick mix and judge your ratios, adding as needed.

When it looks like you've got about the right amount of stuff in with your tuna, it's time to dress it up.  Add about a tablespoon of mustard and 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise, and mix well.

Once the salad is nicely mixed, add more mayo if necessary to reach your desired texture.  When you're there, it's time to season.  Add about a tablespoon of Herbes de Provence (or other similar herbs) and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of coriander.  A pinch of salt and pepper should finish things off.  Give it a taste and adjust as necessary.

Ideally, now is the time to cover the bowl and let it rest in the fridge for a while.  The flavors really come out if you give things a little time to meld.  Of course, it's no disaster if you just want to dig in, either.

When you're ready to serve, you have plenty of options.  If you prefer your tuna cold, I like it topped with sprouts and just a smidge of extra mustard.

If you're more a fan of the tuna melt, toast the bread and top your tuna with some good melting cheese - I prefer provolone.

However you eat it, enjoy!

Recipe: Savory-Sweet Tuna Salad
Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cook Time: 2 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 6-8

  • 1 12oz can Tuna in water
  • 3 tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp Mustard
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Slivered Almonds
  • 1/2-2/3 large Sweet Onion
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1 tbsp Herbes de Provence
  • 1 tsp Ground Coriander
  • Salt and Pepper to taste 

  1. In a skillet over medium heat, toast almonds 1-2 minutes.
  2. Dice onion finely.
  3. Drain tuna.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine tuna, onion, toasted almonds, and dried cranberries.
  5. Add mayonnaise and mustard and mix well.  Add more mayonnaise to reach desired texture.  Mix well.
  6. Add seasonings and mix well.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  7. Serve on a cold sandwich with mustard and sprouts, or as a warm tuna melt on toasted bread with melted cheese.


  1. Looks quite tasty. I especially like adding the Craisins. I'm sure the sweet/tartness goes nicely with the saltiness of the Tuna, and the edginess of the Mustard and Onion. I'll be trying this soon...

  2. I love craisins in my tuna salad (or chicken for that matter)