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Chop it up with a salad made for healthy eating, even during the pandemic

In today's "Home with the Lost Italian," Sarah Nasello shares one idea to hit the reset button on your at-home diet.

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Give your diet a healthy reset with Sarah's flavorful and nutritious Mediterranean Chopped Tuna Salad. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
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Everywhere on social media these days, I’m seeing posts from people musing about how much weight they’ll have gained by the time the world starts back up again. I never knew I could bake, and eat, so much bread in such a short period of time.

If, like me, you’re looking for a way to hit the reset button on your diet before you’ve reached the point of no return, this week’s Mediterranean Chopped Tuna Salad was created for healthy eating, even in these times. With the exception of an avocado, all of the ingredients for this salad are either canned, jarred or have a refrigeration shelf life of at least a week.

This fresh spring salad is packed with nutrition and flavor, featuring low-fat proteins like canned albacore tuna and chickpeas, healthy fats like Kalamata olives and avocado, and a medley of fresh veggies, including bell pepper, cucumber and red onion.

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Sarah's Mediterranean Chopped Tuna Salad features a variety of colorful ingredients, including (from left) Kalamata olives, red onion, avocado, albacore tuna, cucumber, bell pepper and chickpeas, surrounded by fresh parsley leaves. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

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A chopped salad is simply a salad in which all of the ingredients are chopped, even the greens, if included. Italian flat-leaf parsley is the only green leaf in this dish, and instead of chopping it into fine pieces, I remove the leaves from the stems and loosely tear them into large pieces so that its fresh flavor really comes through in the salad.

While often overlooked in favor of more robust herbs, parsley is actually a staple in Mediterranean cooking. Its wonderful neutral quality not only brings freshness to any dish, but also serves to elevate the other flavors. Italian parsley is a staple in our household and will keep well in the crisper drawer of our refrigerator for at least a week, often even longer.

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Chopped salads are a great way to ensure that each ingredient is included on every forkful. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

When chopping the salad ingredients, I cut the bell pepper, red onion and Kalamata olives around the same size as the chickpeas, while cutting the cucumber and avocado just a bit bigger.

With its large chunks and mild flavor, albacore tuna is perfect for a chopped salad and requires no chopping at all. This salad is best enjoyed cold, so I’ll toss everything together and refrigerate it for at least one hour, reserving one-quarter of the dressing to moisten up the salad just before serving.

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The mild flavor and firm chunks of solid white albacore tuna make this the perfect fish for a chopped salad. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

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My quick and easy Simple Vinaigrette is one of my favorite go-to dressings and the perfect fit for the robust flavors in this salad. The liquid base is extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and fresh lemon juice, whisked together with a touch of Dijon mustard and minced garlic for a zesty, flavorful dressing that can be used on nearly any salad. The dressing can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to one week.

Filled with flavor and nutrition, and needing only about 15 minutes of prep time, this simple Mediterranean Chopped Tuna Salad is a winner on every level. It’s perfect all on its own, but is also great over toast or greens, or as filling in a pita or sandwich (there’s that darn bread, again).

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Mediterranean Chopped Tuna Salad is dressed with a simple vinaigrette made with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar and fresh lemon juice. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

I wish you all you happy, and healthy, eating!

Mediterranean Chopped Tuna Salad

PRINT: Click here for a printer-friendly version of the recipe

Serves: 2 to 4

Salad ingredients:

One 5-ounce can of solid white albacore tuna, drained

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1 cup orange, red or yellow bell pepper, medium-diced

1 cup cucumber, sliced into half-moons ¼-inch thick

½ cup red onion, medium-diced

½ cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved

1 avocado, pitted and chopped

¼ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest, optional

Dressing ingredients:

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Prepare the dressing first so it has time to build flavor before being added to the salad. Place all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until fully emulsified, about 1 minute. Taste and adjust flavors and seasoning as desired; set aside.

To assemble the salad, place all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl and pour ¾ of the dressing over the salad and gently toss until combined. Refrigerate the salad and remaining dressing for at least 60 minutes before serving.

Toss salad with the extra dressing just before serving. Salad is best enjoyed when served chilled. Perfect on its own, over lettuce greens, atop toast or in a sandwich.

Advance prep:

  • The dressing can be made and refrigerated up to 1 week in advance.
  • The salad can be fully assembled, with the exception of the avocado, and refrigerated up to 2 days before serving. Before serving, add the avocado and extra dressing.

Recipe Time Capsule:

This week in...

“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.

Related Topics: FOODRECIPES
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