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Shelf-stable, versatile, nutritious, and budget-friendly, canned tuna sure has a lot going for it. Here, we dive into why we love it and how we love to use it. 

Darcy Lenz
May 09, 2017

I’m almost positive that a tuna fish sandwich was one of the very first, if not the first of the, “meals” that I adored enough to learn how to make for myself—so that I could have it anytime I wanted (the ultimate declaration of power for those under the age of 10). It was a simple delight that involved lightly toasted bread, generously buttered on the inside, and piled high with only the finest tinned Chicken of the Sea (or on occasion, Bumble Bee or Starkist, depending on what was on sale at the supermarket). In short, canned tuna was a staple of my childhood culinary identity, and I still freaking love the stuff. So while I’m a little bummed that what triggered my memory of how much I love this budget-friendly, shelf-stable protein was the unfortunate news surrounding Bumble Bee Foods today, you best believe that after reading about it… I went and jotted "canned tuna" down on my grocery shopping list. I realize this isn’t the obvious instinctual move, but look, beyond my clear emotional attachment to this particular breed of canned fish, it’s impossible to deny that canned tuna is incredibly convenient to keep around (and delicious, too). Here are 6 more tasty reasons why I love it. 

1. Canned tuna is a timeless beauty.  

Photo: Iain Bagwell

Make no mistake, canned tuna isn’t a convenience product of last-minute meals past… it knows how to get with the times and jive with the cool kids. Just look at it, appearing at-home and lovely as ever on this highly trend-conscious piece of avo toast

2. Canned tuna is a quick, easy, affordable way to bulk up your salads. 

Photo: Squire Fox; Styling: Carla Gonzales-Hart

This heart-healthy protein is ready to make any and all of your throw-together lunch salads way better. I mean, just imagine this grain salad without canned tuna—snoozeville. And don’t listen to the haters who say canned tuna isn’t an “office-friendly food;” they’re just jealous. Even if they don’t know it. 

3. Tuna Noodle Casserole is one of the few strong cases for why fish and cheese really do belong together.

I believe that's an important truth to recognize, to be quite honest.  

4. Have you ever had a tuna melt?

Oxmoor House

Because a well-constructed tuna melt is another among those few strong cases mentioned above. 

5. Canned tuna is your one-way ticket to a vibrant and impressive summer appetizer moment. 

Photo: Antonis Achilleos; Styling: Gerri Williams 

Show up to your next potluck with a platter of this Quinoa Salad Niçoise and just see if anyone knocks your canned tuna again. 

6. Tuna salad should only be made using canned tuna. 

To be clear, I am referring to the mayo-based, spread-like “salad” here. And unlike chicken salad, tuna salad made with the canned protein is good and right. It’s a classic busy mom’s make-ahead standby. And as much as I love a quickly seared fresh tuna steak… that has no place in a batch of tuna salad. 

Watch: How to Make Simple Tuna Salad

 

Now, even with all of the highly-persuasive reasoning above, I know a lot of folks remain squeamish about the whole canned tuna situation (for reasons beyond the smell). If sourcing is at the base of your concerns, I’d advise you to simply be mindful and intentional when shopping the tuna shelf, as you should be with all pre-packaged products. For my own pantry, I typically opt for Wild Planet Albacore Wild Tuna (which you can find at stores like Target, Wal-Mart, and Whole Foods). And if I’m in the mood to splurge, I go for Bela Skipjack Tuna Fillets in Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. This makes for a fab addition to any antipasti platter. 

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