Portuguese Salad of Black-Eyed Peas with Tuna

This Portuguese salad of black-eyed peas with tuna, called salada de feijão-frade com atum in Portugal, is a classic dish. It’s a mix of black-eyed peas, canned tuna, onion, olive oil, and parsley. Very economical!

A white round plate topped with a serving of Portuguese salad of black-eyed peas with tuna with a fork resting in the salad and a crust of bread on the side.

This is a classic recipe popular in the Estremadura region, which is made by home cooks and chefs alike. In my kitchen, I rarely make it the same way twice, and I suggest you do the same. In winter, I’ve eaten it warm crowned with chopped hard-boiled eggs or sliced boiled potatoes that I’ve browned in a skillet. For a light summer lunch, I’ve served it cold with slices of crisp apples or pears. I’ve even served it, minus the tuna, alongside medium-rare grilled tuna steaks as a sort of deconstructed homage to its origins.–David Leite

Portuguese Salad of Black-Eyed Peas with Tuna

  • Quick Glance
  • (3)
  • 20 M
  • 5 H
  • Serves 4 to 6
4.7/5 - 3 reviews
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Place the black-eyed peas in a large saucepan, add enough water to cover, and soak for 2 hours. Drain and fill the pot with fresh water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the beans are tender but still hold their shape, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the oil and vinegar until blended. 

In a large serving bowl, combine the black-eyed peas, onion, garlic, and 3 tablespoons of the parsley. Pour in about 3/4 of the dressing and toss to coat. If you’d like, add some or all of the remaining dressing. Fold in the tuna, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours for the flavors to blend. 

Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving. Take a taste and, if desired, add a splash of oil or vinegar or season with salt and pepper. Toss, sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley, and bring to the table. Originally published April 15, 2009.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This Portuguese tuna salad recipe is the bomb. All the flavors come together perfectly. I took the description to heart and made it slightly different with what I had on hand.

The first time I made it with pinto beans, in place of black-eyed peas, it was so good. The second time I made I used fresh tarragon, in place of parsley. I did use slightly less olive oil the second time because the recipe had plenty of oil and flavor.

Additionally, it tasted delicious right after it was made. This recipe makes about 8 servings and is an easy go to for the week.

The basic salad is delicious. I love black-eyed peas and have a marinated black-eyed pea salad I make on occasion, and that’s what drew me to this.

In the spirit of never making this the same way twice, when I served more of the salad for lunch a day after first serving it, I plated it over baby arugula. Not only did it look gorgeous, but the peppery greens added a lovely new note to the earthiness of the black-eyed peas and rich, mild fishiness of the oil-packed tuna.

The first time I served this salad, it had been refrigerated for 3 hours and then rested at room temperature for another 30 minutes. By the second and subsequent days, the flavors had married more thoroughly and the salad got even better. It is definitely improved by being made ahead of time as much as possible.

I loved the raw onion in this. At first, I thought there might be too much (especially because the only small onion I had was fairly old and pungent), but I would have been happy with even more onion than was in here. The bite from the onion worked well with the other combined ingredients.

I had some black-eyed peas in my cabinet that I needed to use up and ran across this recipe. Surprise! I had all the other ingredients on hand as well. It seemed the perfect summer meal, and it was. I cooked my peas in the morning and mixed up the salad to let it blend in the fridge. I took it out when I started to make some cornbread to go with it, and I let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving, as suggested in the recipe. I usually don’t enjoy black-eyed peas without tomatoes, but this was an eye-opener, as it was delicious.

Even my picky hubby enjoyed this one. A perfect light summer meal on a hot, humid day.

I went into this Portuguese tuna salad ecipe a skeptic of a bean-tuna combo, but I came out a believer. It just sort of ... works. The black-eyed peas add a nice creaminess and the tuna chimes in with a fresh note. This would for sure be improved by cooking your own black-eyed peas, but my canned ones sufficed. However, I would not recommend using any but the fanciest canned tuna.

Easy, delicious, satisfying. This Portuguese tuna salad recipe is perfect for a quick lunch, a light dinner, or maybe part of a summer cold salad buffet. It came together quickly, and despite having just a few basic ingredients, it really packed great flavor. This will be a staple in our house.

I used canned black-eyed peas, which worked great and made it much easier to envision this as a last minute dish.

I adjusted the dressing slightly—for my tastes I think cutting the dressing back by a 1/2 or 1 tablespoon would be sufficient. I held back that amount after dressing gradually and tasting and was very happy with the flavor.


Canned tuna and black-eyed beans are ingredients that we always have in the pantry. This is a recipe that we prepare whenever we don’t have time to cook, or we don’t feel like it, but mainly because it is a recipe that the whole family likes a lot. It is much more appreciated in summer, where we can add boiled eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, arugula, broccoli—the possibilities are endless.


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  1. Unexpected time on my hands (rescheduling due to that #bombdiggity #Grayson!) and thinking now I can have a proper lunch. What to make? Haven’t had my new year’s blackeyed peas…but nary a pork product in the house. THESE are happening. I think slivers of fennel would be a nice complement and lots of fresh parsley, and yes an egg or two…reporting back soon. Thanks to Instant pot, no worries I didn’t soak these last night!

    1. Oh, Jacqueline, you got to this before I had a chance to tweak it. I made these for New Year’s, and instead of water, I soaked them in chicken stock. Over-the-top lusciousness.

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