I have a bit of an obsession with the Whole Foods Cranberry Tuna Salad that you get in the deli. There is one fairly close to my house so I suppose I could just go get it whenever I want, but I worry. When you like something this much, you lay awake at night and think “What if they go out of business?” or “What if they stop making it?”. Things like that. Serious things. It is also kind of expensive at around $10/lb.
A quick Google search shows that I am not alone in my love of this salad but ALL of the recipes out there trying to reverse engineer it are WRONG. They look nothing like it, taste nothing like it. They are fine tuna salads, but not what I want.
After about a month of trial and error, I believe that I have come as close as I’m going to get and life is good.
Every choice I’ve made for ingredients is to make it just like what you buy in the deli at WFM.
Here is what you need.
- 2 6oz cans Yellowfin tuna in spring water, preferably line caught, in BPA free cans
- 2 Tbsp dried minced onion
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 3 Tbsp Lemon Volcano Juice
- 5 Tbsp Whole foods 360 brand canola mayo
- 3 Tbsp chopped dried cranberries
- 1-2 tsp sugar or stevia (I use 1 packet of PureVia)
Yes, yellowfin tuna, not albacore. Albacore may be “better” but it is NOT what they make the salad out of at WFM. It is a darker color and if you want the same flavor, you need Yellowfin. I used this stuff and it works perfectly.
The mayo is probably exchangeable but I use what they seem to use – it makes sense that they use their own canola mayo.
I used just sweetened dried cranberries from Whole Foods. I doubt it matters much. A bunch of the other recipes say that they must be unsweetened but my WFM doesn’t carry any that are not sweetened (believe me, they searched). Sweetened works fine, just don’t add much other sweetener.
Volcano Lemon Burst is is a little bottle shaped like a lemon that I found in the juice section of my local Whole Foods. It is not concentrated, but it has some of the zest in there or lemon oil – a little bit more intense than a squeezed lemon.
Onions – must be dried. I tried EVERYTHING to get the right consistency with fresh onion and it won’t work. You need dried onions to soak up the lemon juice and other moisture to get the tuna salad consistency the same with that super tart taste.
Mix everything but the tuna in a mixing bowl and blend it with a fork and let it sit. Open the two cans of tuna and use the top to press down to drain the water. You need to drain it VERY well, press down hard and keep doing it until your fingers hurt and the metal top is bent. Then do it some more.
When your tuna is drained, add it to the mixing bowl and use a fork to mix it up good, smashing it against the side to break up the chunks of tuna. The consistency of the store-bought is very fine, I am pretty sure it is mixed in a mixer but you don’t really need to do it if you use a fork.
After it is mixed up, taste it to see if it sweet enough for your taste and what lemon you used and adjust if necessary.
Place it in a tightly close container and put it in the fridge for 24 hours to allow the onion to re-hyrdrate and enjoy!
Let me know if you can make it better and better only means more like the original to me 😉