This Loaded Tuna Pasta Salad is filled with flaky tuna, delicious pasta, tons of veggies and the perfect garlic herb ranch dressing! It’s easy, and the perfect salad to meal prep for all week!
This recipe is sponsored by my friends at DaVinci’s Pasta. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make OBB possible!
Tuna Salad: A Classic Meal
I’ve always loved tuna salad as a kid. However, as a kid, my idea of a tuna salad was like “do you want some tuna with that mayo?” Yes, canned tuna + LOTS of mayo + the really bad for you but really good tasting white bread. Yup yup.
For this recipe, I really wanted to reimagine everything that I loved from that recipe as a kid into a delicious, lighter powerhouse of a salad! This involves adding pasta for some extra carb-olicious action and dousing everything in a Homemade Garlic Herb Ranch Dressing! YES!
As y’all probably know, in the South, we love mayonnaise. Anytime a salad is brought to a cookout, it most likely has at least 1 cup of mayonnaise in it. And to be honest, I usually love the mayo! However, I particularly love how this Tuna Pasta Salad ISN’T “overdressed”.
It doesn’t have only tasting notes of mayonnaise to it. Instead, it’s lightly dressed so you can really taste each element from the flaky tuna to the peppery greens to the fresh squeezed lemon and the crunchy toppings! And this dressing I’m speaking of? It’s a Homemade Garlic Herb Ranch Dressing. Oh yes, I went there.
For the base of this Tuna Pasta Salad, I used DaVinci’s small shells but feel free to use any pasta you have on hand. I think the small shells were able to really soak up all of that goodness that the Garlic Herb Ranch Dressing offered! Combined with tons of crunchy Summer veggies, fresh garden herbs, loaded with that flaky protein packed tuna – this Tuna Pasta Salad is THE Summer pasta salad ya gotta take to a cookout. Or meal prep and eat at home all week, because let’s be honest, pasta salads always taste better the next day!
Let’s get into how to make it!
Ingredients You Need for Loaded Tuna Pasta Salad:
- DaVinci small shells, cooked al-dente
- canned wild caught tuna
- red bell pepper and red onion
- mixed greens
- pepperoncinis (banana peppers work too!)
- jalapeno, de-seeded and diced
- chopped parsley
- mayonnaise + whole milk (more if needed)
- fresh garlic garlic, finely minced
- spices like: salt, pepper, cayenne, oregano
How to Prepare Loaded Tuna Pasta Salad:
First, get a big ol’ pot of salted water boiling! Cook the small shells according to the package. I prefer mine al dente but cook according to your taste!
Once the noodles are done, run some cold water over them to begin the cooling process.
In the meantime, let’s slice and dice the rest of the delicious toppings! First, you got your red bell pepper and red onion. For both of those, dice into small bite size pieces. Next, you can slice the pepperonicinis to your liking (and try not to eat most of them like I did – sooo addictive!). Finely mince both parsley and garlic. Aaaand because I always save the jalapeno for last (because I’m a baby and I’m afraid I’ll get it in my eyes), de-seed and dice the jalapeno into bite size pieces. Set all of this aside for now.
How To Make Perfect Garlic Herb Ranch Dressing:
In a medium size bowl, combine the mayonnaise with the whole milk. Mix until you get a deliciously creamy consistency. This may required tweaking as you go along. Too thick? Add more milk! Too thin? Add more mayo. The exact measurements below are really just a starting point to what your desired ranch dressing consistency is!
Once you have that consistency down – add in the chopped herbs, fresh garlic and spices. Mix. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Putting it all together:
To a large bowl, add your cooled down pasta noodles. On top, add your chopped veggies along with 2 cans of wild caught flaky tuna! On top of this, add your ranch dressing. Gently mix together, making sure all of the ingredients are combined.
Lastly, you can skip this step if ya want, but I like to set it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to make sure all of the flavors meld together and it has fully cooled down.
Annnnd once it’s cooled down, add your favorite mixed greens to a large bowl and top it with the loaded tuna pasta salad! Garnish with fresh parsley and a squeeze of fresh lemon if desired. Summer dinner of my dreams, y’all!! Make sure to pair it with a crisp glass of white wine if you want to treat yoself! XO.
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Loaded Tuna Pasta Salad
- 10 oz. small shells, cooked al-dente (or use any pasta you have)
- Two 5 oz. cans of wild caught tuna
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 1-2 cups mixed greens
- ½ cup diced pepperoncinis (banana peppers work too!)
- 1 jalapeno, de-seeded and diced
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
Garlic Herb Ranch Dressing
- ½ cup mayonnaise (more if needed)
- 2 tbsp whole milk (more if needed)
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- ½ tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp oregano
Cook the DaVinci small shells according to the instructions on the bag. Drain and let it cool.
Dice your vegetables including the red bell pepper, red onion, pepperoncini, fresh parsley and jalapeno. Set aside.
Make the garlic herb ranch dressing by combining the mayonnaise with the whole milk. You should whisk until you get a creamy consistency - if it’s too thin, add more mayo. If it’s too thick, add more milk until you get the consistency that you desire. Once you get the consistency, add in the chopped herbs, fresh garlic and spices. Mix. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Now that the pasta is cooled down, add it to a large bowl. On top, add the canned tuna, chopped bell pepper, red onion, pepperoncini, jalapeno and fresh parsley.
Pour the garlic herb ranch dressing into the bowl. Mix gently, making sure that all of the ingredients are fully combined.
Set in the fridge for 20-30 minutes or so to let it cool down and make sure that all of the flavors meld together.
Once it’s cooled down, add 1-2 cups of mixed greens to a large bowl and top it with the loaded tuna pasta salad! Garnish with fresh parsley and a squeeze of fresh lemon if desired. Enjoy!
13 comments / Add your comment below
Love using canned tuna and making something special like this super duper fab pasta salad! And that dressing? Sooooo glad you went there 🙂 Looks like that would be delicious on just about anything! Another yummy recipe, Haylie! I see this one in my future real soon! Happy weekend, my friend.
Me too, girl!! Thank you! Tuna can be a fishy ingredient (pun intended)…but I love it so much! 🙂
We always have canned tuna on hand, and this is such a great recipe to use it in. I’m always looking for new pasta salad recipes that will please a crowd, and this one would be a hit, especially with that creamy garlic herb ranch dressing!
Me too! I love how there is so much protein and nutrition in canned tuna! 🙂
OMG! I make tuna pasta salad all the time but I never think to load it up! This looks amazing!! Pass me a plate, please!!
Yesss! Thank you so much, Annie! 🙂
Oh my God, this looks like a fantastic tuna salad. I love tuna salad, and I can’t tell you the last time I had it.
Yay! Thank you so much, Jeff!! 🙂
Haylie, this looks amazing!!!
Awww thank you guys!! 🙂
Haylie, this pasta salad looks wonderful and so full of goodness! I’m definitely a mayo lover and that garlic herb ranch dressing is everything! Love the shell shaped pasta to hold in all the yummy bits!
Such a good point about the shell shaped pasta! Love that 🙂
Tuna tuna tuna! Anything with tuna in it is music to my ears. This looks delicious!