There are times when I know that I’m a dinosaur in the foodie world. I don’t always cook light and healthy, I’m not vegan, I don’t cook gluten free and I’m not out to reinvent the wheel cooking wise. And while I admire those who do all of those things, I kinda like it that way I am, as the titles says, a product of my generation. I was born in 1964, which by some lists makes me born in the last year of the Baby Boomers. It was back when women’s rights was still a fledgling moment, back when Civil Rights was (unfortunately) still not something that everybody liked. It was also back in the days when Vietnam was a country very few people had heard of. In 1964, there were really no hippies. There were “Beatniks”. The famed Jack Kerouac (much loved by said Beatniks as well as the hippies to come) was near both the end of his career and the end of his life. The Beatles were in the middle of their first world tour and on the day of my birth, The Kinks released the song “You Really Got Me”. The St. Louis Cardinals won the world series and everyone watched it in black and white on TV’s that had long “Rabbit Ears” attached to the back of them.
People also ate differently back then. With exceptions, it was still the time period of mom stayed home and cooked three meals a day plus snacks and dad went to work. People were just starting to eat lighter but for the most part, creamy, heavy, fried, calorie laden foods were the norm. Jello salads were still all the rage and dad manned the bbq grill on the weekends while mom made the side dishes. No one would ever think of making either potato salad or pasta (macaroni) salad without a few gallons of mayo thrown in and approximately 500 calories per half cup serving. Dad would drink a Pabst Blue Ribbon with dinner and mom would clean up afterwards.
In other words, I really AM a product of my generation since we all know what I love to cook for this blog. Creamy, heavy, fried and calorie laden and Lord above knows I love my mayo.
But at times, even I try to lighten things up. At least a little bit. Like I’ve said before, if I actually ate much of many of the things I make on here, Paula Deen would be sharing her diabetes medication with me and I would have to be lifted with a crane. Everything in moderation right? It sucks but it’s one of those sad facts of life that if you eat 14 Twinkies in a row, you WILL regret it. And if you eat a tub of the typical pasta salad, you WILL end up with no room in your arteries for the blood to flow.
So give this one a try. It makes a great meal on it’s own, a tasty side dish (you can even omit the tuna if you want though I personally love it that way) and while I won’t claim that this is health food, it definitely doesn’t have a gallon of mayo in it. I’ve lightened it up with Greek yogurt and added flavor with lemon juice and zest as well as a boatload of fresh (and dried) dill weed. Also, this makes enough for a pot luck or a good amount of people so feel free to cut in half. Remember when you see the amounts of mayo and such, that this is for 12 ounces (uncooked) of pasta. Not as much as it seems and when the salad sits in the fridge for a while, it will soak up a good amount and you may need to add more at serving time if it seems too dry.
Chilled Lemon Dill Tuna Pasta Salad
- 12 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked according to direction
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2/3 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped green onion
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1 carrot, grated (can use more but I don’t like carrots very much)
- 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
- 2 teaspoons jarred pickled jalapenos (optional)
- 1/3 cup sweet pickle relish
- 1 cup (give or take) good quality mayo (preferably home made)
- 1 cup good quality Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup Miracle Whip (if you hate Miracle Whip, use more mayo instead
- 1 cup finely chopped fresh Dill weed
- 1 teaspoon dried Dill weed (can up the dried to 2 tablespoons if you don’t have fresh)
- zest of one large lemon
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 or 3(depends on how meaty you like it) 6 ounce cans GOOD tuna (NOT the stuff that looks like cat food. You want chunks, not mush), drained
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook your pasta according to package directions, adding the two teaspoons salt to the cooking water.
- While it cooks, combine the rest of your ingredients, except for the tuna, in a large non metal bowl. Stir well. Taste for seasoning and add more dill, salt and pepper if needed. I also usually end up adding more pickle relish because I am sadly addicted to the stuff. For the most part, the ingredient amounts in here are just guidelines. You may like more carrot, less green pepper, dill relish…etc etc
- Drain the pasta very well. You can even go so far as to pour it onto a cookie sheet and pat it dry with a paper towel.
- Add the pasta to the bowl of creamy ingredients and mix well. Let cool until just warm, about 10 minutes or so.
- Gently fold in the tuna.
- Chill. Serve.