Tuna salad with fennel and pine nuts is easy and pretty healthy, but it’s also incredibly savory and filled with lush ingredients that are probably already in your kitchen. Tuna, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, dried currants, and some bitter chicory make this salad rather exceptional.
Adapted from Lola Milne | One Dish Fish | Kyle Books, 2021
Tin cans are such a wonderful, everyday thing. We all have them stashed in our cupboards and use them often, perhaps even daily. They’re a brilliant way to eat fruit, veg, and fish that aren’t in season and that haven’t been flown thousands of miles.–Lola Milne
Tuna Salad with Fennel and Pine Nuts
- One can or jar (5 3/4-ounce) tuna in olive oil drained and oil reserved
- 1 (9 oz) fennel bulb any tough outer leaves and core discarded, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons water
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon currants
- Boiling water
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 3 sun-dried tomatoes finely chopped
- Small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves chopped
- Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 medium (5 oz) head of chicory* roughly shredded
- 1 medium (1 oz) banana shallot thinly sliced
- Olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- In an extra-small roasting pan, toss the fennel in the reserved oil from the tuna along with 3 tablespoons of water. Season with salt and black pepper and roast until soft and golden, about 20 minutes.
- While the fennel is roasting, place the currants in a heatproof bowl, and cover with boiling water to soak.
- When the fennel is ready, drain the currants and mix into the fennel, along with the tuna, pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, lemon juice, chicory, and shallot.
- Taste and season with salt, pepper, and olive oil, if needed.
*What is chicory?In this recipe, you’re looking for the greens and not the perennial herbaceous plant. Chicory is a family of leafy greens that are related to lettuce but are heartier, with a bitter and earthy taste. Belgian endive, curly endive, escarole, and radicchio are all examples of chicories and any of them can be used in this recipe.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
When I think salad, I think vibrant colors and lots of green. This tuna salad with fennel and pine nuts is not one of those salads, but despite the muted colors of the finished dish, the combination provides a great balance of textures and flavors. The soft roasted fennel and crunchy bitter greens really provide an interesting contrast.
When I make this again, my only addition would be to add some lemon zest to the fennel as it cooks, and to use more parsley and lemon to really brighten up the finished dish. We served this a meal with poached eggs.
This tuna salad with fennel and pine nuts is a wonderful addition to my repertoire of “cooking without cooking” dishes. I grew up with locally processed tuna. Although I loved it, it wasn’t until my adult years that I recognized the superb quality of Atlantic Ocean canned skipjack loins in olive oil. Tinned or jarred tuna is so versatile. My favorite is always an application that doesn’t require heat applied to the already cooked fish.
Even though the fennel is roasted, it’s soft and supple, and mellow, with a bit of a bite. The rest of the salad just comes together as a spectacular offering with such little effort. To save time, I prepared the fennel and while it roasted, I prepared the remaining ingredients. I used 2 cans of my favorite tuna to complete the weight requested in the recipe. I chose radicchio as the bitter leaves for its crunch, heartiness, and color.
Although I was a bit skeptical about the use of currants, I fully intended to test the recipe as written. However, when my currants were not delivered in my groceries I used chopped dry mission figs instead. The finished salad required another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of flake salt. I cannot fault the recipe itself as the ingredients list does lend itself to slight variances between different brands of tuna and lettuce sizes.
This recipe promises tuna, fennel, and bitter leaves. It definitely delivers. It takes the already fabulous tuna and makes it dance on the plate. The flavors are exciting and balanced. The supporting ingredients create a tableau of colors and textures. There were “oohs” and “ahhs” at the table. Really can’t wait to make this again!
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
This tuna salad with fennel and pine nuts is a nice, light lunch or very light dinner for 2 that I will make again. The combination of flavors is refreshing, and even though it is a light dish, it’s full of flavor. The next time I might try black olives for the sundried tomatoes—it seems like olives would complement this dish.
I used endive and I was a little concerned that it may make the dish too bitter, but along with the fennel, which was delicate and sweet from roasting, the bitter greens were a tasty complement.
A few of my favorite ingredients in this dish were the currants and pine nuts. They add a wonderful flavor in just the right amount. I think these additions elevate the dish and make it a little unique.
This definitely serves no more than 2, even with bread. You might stretch it to serve 3 if you add extra greens or an extra can of tuna. I’m not sure this would be good leftover—luckily, it’s super tasty so we finished all of it.