Pasta Salad with Tuna, Pine Nuts, and Red Peppers

There’s ten feet of snow piled up in my front yard, which means I’m dreaming of hot weather and summer picnics.  I made my favorite pasta salad and savored the tangy dressing and the crunch of toasted pine nuts. Tuna, black olives, roasted red peppers and tomatoes made it seem like a mouthful of summer. It was a sweet moment until I looked out the dining room window and saw the snow drifts around the alder and spruce trees. Still, if you look closely enough, a few buds are forming on the branches, so there’s hope.

Whether you need a reminder of warm weather pleasures or you’re looking for something different to take for lunch, this pasta salad is perfect. The recipe makes enough for a potluck or picnic, but you can cut it in half for a family meal. I like to make the larger amount and keep the left-overs in the fridge for lunch during the week. Make sure you don’t over cook  the rice pasta, which can get gummy quickly.

Did you know that bell peppers are one of only two members of the Capsicum genus that don’t produce capsaicin?  Capsaicin is the chemical that makes your mouth burn when you eat a chili pepper. No matter, roasted or raw, bell peppers are delicious.

Pasta Salad with Tuna, Pine Nuts, and Red Peppers

Serves 10-12, adapted from “Cook Now, Serve Later”

2/3 cup (160 ml) garlic infused olive oil
1 cup (240 ml) pine nuts
2 large tomatoes, chopped, or 1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
2 cans (6 1/2 ounces) water-packed tuna, drained and flaked
1 jar (10 – 12 ounces) roasted red peppers or pimento, chopped
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) pitted black olives, sliced or chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) salt
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) black pepper
1 pound (450 grams) rice pasta, fusilli or other shape
1/4 cup (60 ml) parsley, chopped

Boil a large pan of water and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Cook the pasta for a few minutes less than directed so that it keeps its shape in the finished salad. Drain in a colander and rinse under running water, then shake off the excess moisture.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and stir till they turn golden brown. Turn off the heat and stir in the tomatoes, then transfer the mixture to a large serving bowl. Add the tuna, red peppers, olives, vinegar, salt, pepper and cooked pasta. Stir until well mixed. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve at room temperature.

4 thoughts on “Pasta Salad with Tuna, Pine Nuts, and Red Peppers

  1. This looks absolutely mouthwatering. Not much of a cook myself and appreciate your clear instructions.

    It is amazing to me that fructose can be found in so many foods. I do not have the time for all the research and am glad you are blogging about what you’ve learned and how to cook fructose free.

    I look forward to following your blog and trying the recipes.

    • Thanks for the kind words. I’m not actually trying to cook fructose free, though. I just have to avoid certain foods that have too much fructose and fructans in them. There are a couple of issues with fructose that get confused. Fructose is bad for everyone, as anyone who’s read “Sweet Poison” knows, so it’s best not to eat sweeteners that contain fructose. That’s why I only use dextrose, a powdered form of glucose, in my baking. Fructose malabsorbers can’t eat foods that contain more fructose than glucose. They also have to avoid foods with fructans and certain other sugars that aren’t properly absorbed. As long as a food has equal amounts of fructose and glucose in it, fructose malabsorbers can eat it. If you think this is confusing, just try following this diet day in and day out. It’s hard! That’s why I wanted to share the recipes that I’ve found that work. But even if you’re not on this diet, I think you’ll like the food, since the main reason for posting a recipe is because it tastes good.

  2. I just found your blog, and I’m excited to try these recipes! Because I’m very new to being an FM, I’m still figuring out what I can tolerate and what I can’t. I ate something last night for the first time in a month that I couldn’t tolerate, and I felt horrible, so now I’m very wary of trying new stuff. 😦

    Question on two items in this recipe – Tomatoes and red peppers. Tomatoes I’m not sure on because on some lists, it is considered safe and on some lists it’s not. Canned tomatoes and pastes are more concentrated, so I want to completely avoid them, but how have you tolerated fresh tomatoes? Also, maybe it’s my ignorance in cooking, but I thought peppers were not tolerated at all – what’s the difference between sweet red peppers (not allowed) and bell red peppers?

    • All that information out there certainly is confusing, since not all the lists agree. I think the best way to handle the contradictions is to only use information that’s derived from the Monash University research. Two of the main researchers have written an excellent book, “Food Intolerance Management Plan” by Drs. Sue Shepherd and Peter Gibson. It’s hard to find a copy in the U.S., but you can order one from Sue Shepherd’s website in Australia. According to Shepherd and Gibson, the only sweet or bell pepper you need to avoid is the green one. Sweet red peppers are fine to eat.

      Also, you need to go by the total amount of fructose in a recipe, not necessarily by the ingredient it’s found in. It’s okay to use any type of tomato as long as the total amount consumed is small. If a recipe uses 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, remember that it gets divided by the total number of servings, so a recipe serving 6 people would only have a teaspoon per serving. That should be tolerated easily. Each person has a different level of tolerance, so the research is a guideline only.

      The best way for you to figure out what you tolerate is to do an elimination diet. I recommend Patsy Catsos’ book, “IBS: Free At Last!, 2nd ed.” She’s a dietician who specializes in IBS and fructose malabsorption and her book lays out an easy to follow elimination diet that’s safe for fructose malabsorbers.

      Best wishes in sorting through all of this!

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