Fiesta Tuna Salad

Yesterday, I really, really, really, really, really, really, REALLY wanted Mexican food.

Naughty Mexican food, like a frosty margarita and an endless basket of tortilla chips, and yeah, maybe some f*cking queso. Not just queso, f*cking queso.

I did not succumb to these desires.

Instead, I stuck my head in the fridge and grabbed Mexican-ish ingredients: red bell peppers, scallions, pickled jalapenos, fresh limes. I turned off my brain and started chopping. Here’s the thing with me and chopping: it puts me in a sort of meditative state and instantly improves my outlook. It’s both relaxing and requires focus — so my internal whining was temporarily silenced.

As the piles of diced vegetables grew, my attitude shifted from “deprived of tortilla chips” to “You Know How You Could Do That?” I snagged some supporting ingredients from the pantry—fire-roasted, diced tomatoes and my favorite canned tuna—then I started humming the “Mexican Hat Dance.”  Olé!

Fiesta Tuna Salad

Serves 2 | Prep 10 minutes | Whole30 compliant

  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced

  • 2-3 scallions, green & white, sliced thin

  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapeno rings, chopped

  • 1/2 cup fire-roasted, diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen; no BPA!)

  • 2 cans tuna (I like this kind)

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • juice of 1 lime, about 2 teaspoons

  • 2-3 tablespoons homemade mayo

  • optional additions: cilantro, sliced olives, diced avocado


In a medium mixing bowl, combine the bell pepper, scallions, jalapenos, tomatoes, and tuna. Mix well with a fork, breaking up any large clumps of tuna.


Add the chili powder, cumin, and lime juice to the bowl. Mix well, then taste for seasoning; adjust as necessary. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the mayo so the salad becomes creamy, but the mayo doesn’t devolve into its component parts.


Pile on a plate with raw veggies — I like cucumber slices, jicama sticks, green pepper strips, and carrots.

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  • Amber says:

    Yum! I think I will love this flavor combo!

  • Lucy says:

    I love your recipes so this has to hit the spot for Mexican without all the guilt!!!!!!!

  • Emily says:

    Oh my lanta! I’ve been looking for a way to jazz up my cabbage + tuna drab salad! I’ll trust that this truly makes you want to steer clear from a huge pile of chips and queso the next time that craving hits – aka probably tomorrow!

  • Mary R. says:

    Since I am Mexican & have been raised on that food, I crave it daily!!!! So I do something similar to this but mines a little different. I get 1 whole 5oz can of tuna drained, 1 cup of cabbage shredded, 1 tablespoon of lime juice, Cayenne pepper powder to taste, 1/2 avocado & salt to taste. 1st mash the avocado in a bowl, then add Tuna, lime juice, cayenne pepper & salt. Mix well then top it with cabbage! It is amazing & spicy!!! Just the way ike it! It has even passed my Moms tasting test!! Ha ha ha! Try it out!

  • melephant says:

    I satisfied my most recent Mexican food craving with a bunch of ground beef cooked up with taco-ish spices, mushrooms, garlic and onions, then topped with guacamole, pico de gallo and wrapped in lettuce leaves.

  • Cheri says:

    I don’t know how you feel about plantains, but every once in a while I will grab a handful of plantain chips with some salsa or fresh pico and a diced avocado. Fresh and lovely with just that bit of crunch you crave!

  • Brianne says:

    The recipe looks great, and the video gave me a fun little chuckle… I love the juxtaposition of the Mexican hat dance with Japanese subtitles. 🙂

  • hmmm. I do a similar tuna salad regularly, BUT… the lime and the jalepeno… gotta get me some of that for a bit of a change!

    well done not succumbing!!!

  • Mel, I LOVE all things mexican. There aren’t enough recipes out there–no matter how many there are! And this one uses what I always have on hand–there is always lime juice and a jar of jalapinos in my fridge. This looks like awesome go-to-food. Trying it this weekend! (Weekend lunches are always hard because we never think ahead for some reason…)

  • Caroline says:

    Oooh this is going to hit the spot! Can’t wait to try it tonight. Thanks for inspiring me to keep on track with eating! =)

  • This looks SO good. And I am with you on the queso! Since being “officially” Paleo, I have managed to “sneak” it in here and there. But FAR MORE than I should, and I never feel good about it!

  • Melissa Hemphill says:

    I totally agree… chopping is therapeutic. Can’t wait to try this! Yum!

  • Erin says:

    Looks delish! Pinning…

  • Mel says:

    Glad you guys are excited about this one! I love the idea of added shredded cabbage — or serving the tuna on a cabbage bed. Great suggestion! For anyone who has thyroid issues like I do, you can shred the cabbage, then lightly steam and chill it to help mitigate the issues with the goitrogens in the cabbage. That’s my trick for all cold cabbage dishes that are usually made with raw cabbage.

    Love plaintains! Love the idea of some plaintain chips alongside this salad!

  • Mona Hurkadli says:

    Thank you for a great recipe! I made this tonight and added a couple of tablespoons of homemade guacamole to it! It was so satisfying!

  • Catherine says:

    Just made this for dinner. Fantastic! I loved the cilantro add. I used shrimp (what I had in the house).

    Your recipes are truly amazing! Thank you for bringing the foodie attitude to the paleo lifestyle!

    • Mel says:

      I’m so glad you liked it! The shrimp mod is a great idea! I love shrimp, but the only fish/seafood Dave can eat is tuna, so when I’m cooking for both of us, I’m limited.

      Thank you for your sweet compliment — really appreciate it!

  • Jeremiah C says:

    Just started Whole30 – this is easily the best recipe yet! It’s like the Gulf of Mexico in my mouth…