Tuna Salad with Pickled Beets

Tuna Salad with Pickled Beets (Serves 2)

The first thing I would teach a class of new cooks would be how to make tuna salad because knowing how to make tuna salad means you are ready to prepare dozens of different meals. Tuna salad is open to endless variation by changing ingredients, and if you can make tuna salad, you can make salmon salad, crab salad, egg salad, and chicken salad. Here I am sharing with you my latest variation of tuna salad with a side of home-pickled beets.

Prep time: 15-20 minutes

Tuna Salad

1 can of tuna
1 handful of sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
1 handful of carrot, chopped
3 heaping teaspoons of mayonnaise
1-2 teaspoons of spicy brown mustard
Garlic powder


Add tuna to a mixing bowl. Add a handful of chopped onion, a handful of chopped carrots, an entire chopped apple, 3 heaping teaspoons of mayonnaise, 1-2 teaspoons of mustard, and then mix well. Taste and add garlic powder and salt to taste. Mix and taste again. Add more spices, mayonnaise, or mustard as needed to get the taste and consistency you like.

Notes: Homemade mayonnaise is surprisingly easy to make and bumps up the flavor of this dish. I learned to make mayonnaise from Melissa Joulwan, a wonderfully creative cook and entertaining writer on food, exercise, music, and life. She promised me it would be easy and she was right! Don’t accept the soybean oil, sugar, and preservatives of store-bought mayonnaise anymore. Make some homemade yourself. I’ll walk you through it below or you can click here and let Melissa walk you through it.

Pickled Beets

1 or 2 cans of beets
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider


Add beets with half the liquid from can to an air-tight plastic container. Cover beets with apple cider vinegar. Add a generous glug of apple cider to take the edge off. Store in refrigerator for at least an hour and ideally overnight.

Notes: I bought cheap, generic brand apple cider vinegar to use in pickling instead of using the nice stuff that I cook kale and chard with. Maybe that is why I found adding a little apple cider to the mix as a sweetener important. Traditional pickling recipes often add sugar. I tried adding big golden raisins to sweeten, but they did not make a meaningful difference even though I found I kind of liked pickled raisins.

Homemade Mayo

1 egg
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups olive oil (light, not extra virgin)


Place the egg, mustard powder, salt, apple cider vinegar, and 1/4 cup of olive oil in a food processor and whirl until well mixed – 20 to 30 seconds. You can mix by hand in a bowl with a whisk like Julia Childs did in the old days, but that is a lot of work. Now here comes the important part: Drizzle in the last cup of olive oil very, very slowly while you keep running the food processor – as in, take about 3 minutes to drizzle in one cup of oil. Don’t get in a hurry and dump a lot of oil in at once or the mixture can collapse and stop looking like mayonnaise. IF your mayo collapses, all is not lost. Put the mixture in the refrigerator for a few hours and then stir it vigorously. Such “failed” mayo doesn’t look as pretty, but it still tastes good and works fine in tuna salad. Once you are done, transfer your mayo to an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator until needed. Homemade mayo should be good until the expiration date of the egg it was made with.

Melissa Joulwan warns of the importance of starting with all ingredients at room temperature. I have had success using a cold egg, but am mixing with apple cider vinegar and not lemon juice like Melissa. That difference might make a difference.

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