As much as I love to cook, I love to be outside enjoying my favorite season more. Summers are fleeting in Michigan and weekends are short, so I try to make meals that are quick to put together. This pasta salad is ridiculously simple but always gets rave reviews.
(I know I’ve been saying I’m trying to cut back on my pasta intake, but it’s just such a quick, easy way to feed hungry lakehouse guests and teenagers. Besides, I did Pilates this morning.)
Let’s take a moment to talk about tuna. For years I was a Bumblebee albacore fan, but in recent years I’ve found it to be disappointing. It seems mealy and lacking in flavor. Definitely not worth the price tag. I basically stopped buying tuna for a while, until during one of our Costco visits when they were doing tastings of their Kirkland brand canned albacore tuna. I thought it was so good I bought an eight-pack and that’s what I’ve used ever since. It’s high quality, firm, not watery at all, and delicious.
This is such a basic dish it really doesn’t require instructions. I always include chopped celery, green onions, fresh dill (dried is fine if you don’t have fresh), fresh lemon juice, light mayo, lemon pepper, freshly ground black pepper and a little salt. For the pasta I like medium shells.
Dill is one of my favorite herbs. You know how they say that of the five senses, the sense of smell is the number 1 trigger of memories? When I was little we had a next-door neighbor named Mrs. Ring who had no children of her own and treated me like a granddaughter. I spent a lot of time with her (I think most of it was during the summer my mom was pregnant with my brother). She had a vegetable garden where she grew dill for canning pickles. To this day the smell of fresh dill reminds me of my childhood.
When I drain tuna I use this little gadget to shred it. I don’t like to bite into huge hunks of tuna; I prefer it in little bits. The gadget is similar to one my mom gave me when I first lived on my own. It disappeared last year and I panicked, because I couldn’t find a replacement anywhere. I asked my mom where she got it and she said it was one of two that my grandmother, her mother-in-law, had given to her. In other words, it was a thousand years old and so outdated nobody probably even uses it anymore. But it’s such a handy, simple little tool that really has a lot of uses. It’s a great, low-tech way to give a quick rough chop to just about anything. I searched everywhere and online but wasn’t even sure what to search for. Meat chopper? Tuna shredder? Anyway, I finally found a bunch of them on clearance in Meijer’s kitchen gadget section, so I bought four of them.
Sometimes it’s the old-fashioned ways that work the best.
Here’s the finished dish. It’s best if you make it ahead of time and refrigerate it for a few hours before serving, so the flavors have time to blend. Enjoy!
Lakehouse Tuna Pasta Salad
1 lb. pasta (I prefer medium shells), cooked in salted water according to package directions, drained and cooled
2 cans tuna (preferably albacore, packed in water), drained and shredded to your liking
4 stalks celery, medium to finely chopped
1 small bunch green onions, whites and part of the greens, chopped
3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Roughly 1/2 cup mayo (I use light)
Lemon pepper, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Toss all ingredients together and adjust seasonings to taste. Refrigerate for a couple of hours; serve. Makes about 6 servings.