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Italian Orzo Tuna Salad

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This Italian Orzo Tuna Salad recipe is one of my all-time faves — fresh, zesty, savory, and blessedly mayo-free.

Italian Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe

I have to say that I never really considered myself a tuna salad person…

…until I met this tuna salad.

It’s made with all of my favorite Italian pasta salad ingredients, like sun-dried tomatoes, crisp red onion, toasted pine nuts, soft feta cheese, and loads of fresh basil. It’s tossed in a zippy fresh lemon dressing. It calls for a few simple cans of tuna, whose flavor is balanced out nicely by all of the other ingredients and adds a nice extra dose of protein to this dish. It’s easy to make ahead, and equally delicious served hot or cold. And perhaps most importantly to me, it includes zero mayo. Because

I randomly whipped this one up for Barclay and I a few weeks ago when we were cleaning out the pantry, not really sure whether adding the tuna in at the last second was a great or a terrible idea. But after taking our first bites, we turned to each other with eyes wide open and agreed — “This stuff is good!”  So good, in fact, that we both went back for seconds and polished off every tiny last bite of orzo…and then promptly made it again later that week.

Trust me, you’re going to love it!

Italian Orzo Tuna Salad Ingredients Italian Orzo Tuna Salad Ingredients:

Alright, let’s talk ingredients. To make this Italian orzo tuna salad recipe, you will need:

  • Pasta: I used orzo, but any shape will do.
  • Tuna: Any variety of canned tuna that you prefer will work well here. Just be sure to drain it before adding to the salad.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes: I love the sweet and tangy richness of sun-dried tomatoes in this recipe. But fresh chopped tomatoes would also be delicious.
  • Red onion: If you would like the flavor of the red onions to be a bit milder, just rinse them in cold water for a minute before adding to the salad.
  • Fresh spinach: Or any favorite salad greens that you have on hand.
  • Toasted pine nuts: Or any kind of nuts or seeds you prefer.
  • Fresh basil: The more, the merrier, if you ask me. :)
  • Lemon dressing: I used the dressing here from my everyday salad recipe, made with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, dijon, garlic, salt and pepper. It’s easy to make, and compliments the other flavors nicely.

How To Make Italian Orzo Tuna Salad

How To Make This Tuna Salad:

As I said, this salad is delicious served warm or cold. If making the salad warm, be sure to prep your ingredients ahead of time so that you can toss everything together as soon as the pasta has finished cooking. If making the salad cold (my preference), simply:

  1. Cook, drain and rinse the pasta: Cook the pasta al dente in a large pot of salted water, according to package instructions. Then drain the pasta, and rinse it thoroughly with cold water until chilled, and set aside. Meanwhile…
  2. Whisk together your dressing: In a small bowl (or mason jar), whisk (or shake) all of the ingredients together until combined.
  3. Prep your remaining ingredients: Chop the sun-dried tomatoes, basil, onion, and spinach. Toast your pine nuts. Crumble that cheese.
  4. Toss: Then toss everything together in a large bowl until combined. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed. And…
  5. Serve!  Ta-da!

The Best Italian Tuna Salad Recipe

Ways To Customize This Tuna Salad:

Feel like mixing things up? There are all sorts of ways you could customize this one, including:

  • Swap out the pasta: And in its place, add cooked quinoa, farro, barley, or any other favorite grains.
  • Use your favorite dressing: A variety of other Italian-style dressings would be delicious in this salad. Or you could simplify things even more and just use some olive oil and a big squeeze of lemon.
  • Add a different protein: In place of tuna, you could add cooked chicken, shrimp, or any Italian salamis/sausages. Or nix the meat/seafood entirely.

Italian Orzo Tuna Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Spinach and Feta

Enjoy, everyone!

Italian Orzo Tuna Salad Recipe

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Italian Orzo Tuna Salad

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.7 from 16 reviews
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


This Italian Orzo Tuna Salad recipe is one of my all-time faves — fresh, zesty, savory, and blessedly mayo-free.



Pasta Salad Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces uncooked orzo pasta
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach, roughly-chopped
  • 2 (5-ounce) cans tuna, drained
  • half of a small red onion, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Lemon Dressing Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 small clove garlic, pressed or finely-minced (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper


To Make The Pasta Salad:

  1. Cook orzo in a large stockpot of generously-salted water according to package instructions until al dente.  Drain the pasta, then rinse thoroughly with cold water in a colander until the pasta is completely chilled.
  2. Transfer pasta to a large mixing bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and prepared dressing (see below), and toss until evenly combined.  Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.  Then serve immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

To Make The Dressing:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl (or shake together in a mason jar) until combined.  Use immediately or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

Italian Pasta Salad Recipe with Tuna

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24 comments on “Italian Orzo Tuna Salad”

  1. Already added to my menu list! Sounds wonderful!

  2. I’m making this bad boy tonight! The only thing I’m going to change is swapping out sun dried tomatoes ( not a fan at all ) for fresh chopped tomato! Easy, refreshing, summer meal!

  3. Can’t wait to try this one!

  4. Hi Ally,

    In Italy orzo isn’t a pasta. It’s actually a grain and thankfully gluten free. We use it in soups as well.

    • Oooh, now I want to hunt for authentic Italian orzo. I know what I used last night had wheat in it.

    • The Italian word orzo means barley. However, the name orzo for this pasta comes from the Latin because it looks rice-like.

  5. This recipe seems easy to make and looks good. I am looking for quick and easy inexpensive ways make healthy food.

  6. podrían mandarme mas rasetes como esta

  7. This was good, but mine was a little dry. I used tuna packed in oil but drained the oil. (I wish I had added it.) The flavors were lovely, and the others really liked it.

  8. Just made this salad for dinner tonight – it comes together quick and is the delicious fresh meal I was looking for!

  9. Ali, I love your recipes! The Orzo Tuna Salad was supper for us tonight and it was delicious! Great flavor, textures, and colorful. Didn’t have sun-dried tomatoes so cherry tomatoes stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. Definitely will make again!

  10. I made this last night my husband and I both loved it! I had the leftovers for lunch today and I think it improved over time. I didn’t have any pine nuts on hand but I’m definitely adding them next time. Thank you!

  11. Such a fresh tasting meal and a change from boring salads! I was lazy with the dressing and just squeezed half a lemon through the salad and it was delicious! Can’t wait to have again!

  12. Does the orzo have to be rinsed? I rarely rinse pasta for pasta salads.

  13. Delicious!!! It only took me a few minutes to prepare, and it was good even cold/fresh out of the fridge. I don’t like feta so I replaced with marinaded mozz balls!

  14. Pretty good! Easy recipe for meal prep. I added kalamata olives because I felt like it needed an extra kick of flavor.

  15. This was delicious! Made great lunches to bring to work

  16. I made this for a pot luck and everyone loved it. I am definitely putting this in the meal rotation. Thank you.

  17. This recipe is overall great. I made half the salad ingredients and full dressing recipe. The dressing was barely enough for half salad. Leftovers will need more dressing so next time (yes there will be a next time) I will double or triple the dressing because it’s really good. I will also double the basil and maybe do half / half spinach and arugula for some zip.

  18. This was delicious! I am currently losing weight so I used more spinach, less orzo, and the sun dried tomatoes that come in the dry packet instead of oil packed. It was fantastic even with the cuts :)

  19. This was a hit with the whole family. Made it exactly as written. Loved it. Thanks for the recipe!

  20. Wonderful flavors, healthy and family friendly. A winner

  21. This salad is simply the most AMAZING salad ever!!!
    The only thing I changed was the pine nuts only because I didn’t have them and used toasted sliced almonds
    This is completely addictive!

  22. Made this! Now it’s my favorite to bring to potluck. This is delicious and I cannot get tired eating this daily