Wednesday, June 11

More Fast Farm Food: Healthy Swiss Chard Tuna Salad Recipe with Scallions & Kalamata Olives

Tuna Salad Goes Green

What do you get when you have a greenhouse full of Swiss chard, a bumper crop of scallions in the garden, long days of hunger-inducing farm work, not much time to cook, and a really annoying heat wave? Three batches of this tasty tuna salad in the last ten days — and no sign of us tiring of it anytime soon.

I created this simple yet satisfying recipe last year for NPR's Kitchen Window but never shared it here, and now I know why — I was waiting until I made it even better. It seemed a little odd to apply my More, More, More motto to one of my own recipes, but in this case it worked beautifully. This new greener version is better looking, better for you, and even better tasting.

I've mentioned before that Swiss chard is one of my favorite vegetables. In fact, if I were allowed to grow only two things in my organic kitchen garden they would be tomatoes and Swiss chard. This nutrient-packed chameleon of the vegetable world comes in a variety of colors and is a superb, year-round stand-in for lettuce, spinach and celery. When the spinach is suffering from heatstroke or the lettuce is keeling over from frostbite, my hardy Swiss chard doesn't even flinch. It's also easy to grow from seed and does exceptionally well in containers. And if you grow your own Swiss chard, you'll be able to enjoy the young, tender leaves which are rarely available for sale.

Swiss chard is bursting with nutrients, including vitamins K, A, C and E, plus several B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron and dietary fiber. It's a good source of calcium and contains promising cancer-fighting properties. Throughout history, various parts of the plant have been used to treat everything from ulcers to dandruff.

But more importantly, it tastes delicious. Peak season in most areas is from June through October, though in milder climates you often can find interesting varieties of just-harvested bounty at farmers' markets from early spring until late fall. Look for crisp stalks with shiny, unblemished leaves.

Swiss Chard is the New (Gorgeous) Celery

One of the best things about Swiss chard is that it's actually two crops in one — the crunchy stalks can be chopped up and used in place of celery in many recipes, which is especially nice since conventionally grown celery ranks number four on the Environmental Working Group's list of most contaminated produce. Choose colorful varieties of Swiss chard such as Pink Lipstick, Canary Yellow, and Orange Fantasia and you'll have some of the prettiest 'celery' around.

Tuna salad is the kind of thing I like to keep on hand in the fridge for quick meals and easy snacks, especially during the summer months, and this twist on the old standby will tempt even the most overheated appetites. If you don't have any Swiss chard handy you could substitute another sturdy leafy green such as spinach, kale, cabbage, or even some finely chopped broccoli or kohlrabi leaves (talk about healthy) or collard greens. Lettuce wouldn't hold up, but a handful or two of arugula would add a snappy bite.

This is one of those recipes that adapts easily to whatever you have on hand, so don't be afraid to be creative. Any type of olives would work — cracked green, oil cured, even the plain old canned black ones. Chopped purple onion in place of the scallions would be very nice. Some red cabbage would be tasty, and I almost tossed a shredded carrot into the latest batch. After taking these photos I did stir in a few handfuls of drained and rinsed organic kidney beans, which added protein and fiber and made this salad even more of a meal.

Susan's Swiss Chard Tuna Salad
Serves 2 to 4

If you have a chance, mix up your tuna salad and let it sit in the refrigerator at least a few hours before serving; it'll be even tastier. You can put it on sandwiches, stuff it into pita pockets, spread it on crackers, or serve it on a bed of lettuce. You could make baby sandwiches on Carrot Herb Rolls, Italian Olive Cheek Rolls, or Savory Cheese & Scallion Scones, or use Swiss chard leaves in place of tortillas to make easy low-carb tuna wraps. I often eat it straight from the bowl with a fork. Feeding a crowd? Just double the recipe. As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients whenever you can.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (I like white balsamic)
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives (about 10 olives)
2 teaspoons brine from the olives (or more balsamic vinegar)
2 6-ounce cans tuna (oil or water packed), drained
3/4 cups chopped Swiss chard stems
2 to 3 cups chopped Swiss chard leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh parsley, preferably Italian flat leaf
1 cup (or more) chopped scallions (green onions), white and green parts (about 10 small)
Salt & pepper to taste

Few handfuls of canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Combine mayonnaise, dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar and olive brine in a medium bowl and mix well. Stir in olives, tuna, chopped Swiss chard stems and leaves, parsley, and scallions. Add salt and pepper to taste and more mayonnaise and/or vinegar if desired. Stir in kidney beans if using. Tuna salad will keep for three days in the refrigerator.

Related posts:
How To Grow Swiss Chard from Seed & Why You Should
Recipe: Hot Swiss Chard Artichoke Dip (and lots of other ways to use Swiss Chard)
Grow Arugula — Seed to Salad Bowl in Less than a Month
How To Grow Your Own Gourmet Lettuce from Seed
What To Do With 125 Scallions

To go with your tuna salad:
Four Hour Parisian Daily Baguettes
Beyond Easy Beer Bread
Oatmeal Toasting Bread
Savory Cheese & Scallion Scones
Carrot Herb Rolls (and a bargain bread book for beginners)
Italian Olive Cheek Rolls
How To Make Your Own Pita Bread & Pita Chips

Other Farmgirl Fare recipes you might enjoy:
Sour Cream & Onion Dip (and foodie travel)
Fiesta Cottage Cheese Veggie Dip (and factory tours)
Mexican Jumping Bean Slaw & Quick Vegetarian Tacos
Colors of Summer Salad
Summer in a Bowl
The Easiest Greek Salad Ever

Still hungry?
You'll find links to all my sweet & savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the sidebar of the Farmgirl Fare homepage under Previous Posts: Food Stuff W/ Recipes. Enjoy!

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, & photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres — and we feast on homegrown Swiss chard almost year round.


  1. Just fabulous! The white balsamic vinegar is a great idea here.

  2. Susan, I'm a loyal reader -- and also happen to write EWG's blog. I always love seeing our work on blogs I love. This recipe looks tasty!

  3. Your chard is gorgeous, and the recipe sounds great. I've been combining fresh chard with frozen spinach (freezer cleanout time) to make an easy Indian-influenced dish.

    I start with onions sauteed in butter. When they're soft, I add a hefty dose of homemade garam masala and cook for a couple of minutes. Then I add the chopped chard, still wet from the rinsing, and thawed spinach. I let that cook down and when it's reduced, add cream. Serve that either with basmati, or use it to fill sourdough crepes. For variety, add cooked potatoes or cottage cheese to the greens, or add grated aged goat cheese to the crepes.

  4. This sounds PERFECT for the hot weather we've been having! Thanks for the weekday meal inspiration!

  5. I can say with 99% certainty that I will make this and enjoy it very soon.

    I have chard and onions coming out of everywhere and can't keep up.

    I just hope I have more tuna in the cupboard.

    Thanks for another great recipe!

  6. sniffle, I can't eat swiss chard---it makes my teeth feel unbelievably "fuzzy". will try this with spinach and celery instead. I just love the color of the new rainbow chards though.

  7. i thought of you today. did you see the adorable pig in boots? if not google her and you are in for one big treat!!! that chard looks amazing by the way. hope all's well. sorry i've been so out of touch, -m

  8. the recipe sounds great and the picture makes me want to eat some right now !!!!

  9. I will be trying this soon. Chard and scallions are taking over my garden as we speak. And, a friend just gave me a huge jar of kalamata olives as a hostess gift. Susan, you're timing couldn't be more serendipitous!

  10. I cannot wait to give this a try. I can almost always find Chard down where I live. I would never think of the combination. The colors are fabulous too.

  11. this sounds deeelish! i want to make the parisian daily bread to go with it, but don't have a baking stone (have never ever made bread before!) -- is that a problem?

  12. Sounds good -- yummy cool food for hot weather. I served your Mexican Jumping Bean Slaw at a big grad party last weekend and it was a big hit. Thanks!

  13. Thank you for all the links in this post and the great variation on tuna salad! I'm just now hitting the point in my life where I'm wanting to know the actual ingredients of the food I eat, and it means lots of research and trying out new recipes. Looking forward to some of yours!

  14. Geeze, that recipe sounds fantastic. All of the recipes sound great! Love your blog!

  15. Thank you for the great recipe! I just mixed up a batch for lunch and am eating a wonderful sandwich stuffed with the tuna salad. I have lots of Swissh chard in my garden right now and just got some green onions and fresh parsley from friends. I didn't have kalamata olives, so I used some anchovy stuffed green olives I had already open. It's very good as all of your recipes have been. Thanks again!

  16. I don't grow my own, but my local produce market (in Berkeley, CA) carries fantastic organic chard, so I made a batch of this salad this evening. Fantastic! I've always loved chard, but confess it never occurred to me to eat it raw. What a treat. (Next time I'll triple the olives, though.)

  17. sounds wonderful! we ate buckets and buckets of chard called "blette" in french. the baby really like the green parts and i use the stalks for a lot of things, but havent made this it this way, so i'll try it! thank you!

  18. Susan, have you tried the tuna canned in olive oil from Italy? If you try it you will never look back at regular canned tuna. It would make your recipe even better. It is the only kind I use and everyone who tastes my tuna salad raves and asks for the recipe. It's because of the silky and luscious tuna in olive oil. I still drain most of the oil and add a little mayo, mustard and sometimes yogurt to make it healthier. Try it.

  19. What a wild Tuna salad recipe! my husband is forever experimenting with variations on tuna salad (it is more or less the only lunch "meat" type item he'll eat) so i'll definitely pass this one on.

  20. Hi Everybody!
    Thanks for all the comments and feedback. And it's great to hear that some of you are already enjoying this refreshing recipe. I know we've really become addicted to it lately.

    Hi Kalyn,
    White balsamic vinegar is wonderful stuff, especially when you don't want to discolor your food with the dark version.

    Hi Amanda,
    How wonderful that you write the Environmental Working Group's blog - and are a Farmgirl Fare reader! ; ) EWG is great - thanks for all you do.

    Hi Kate,
    Sounds fantastic!

    Hi Mona,
    Nice to hear from you!

    Hi Jessica,
    I think the Parisian Daily Baguettes would be perfect with this tuna salad. And yours should still come out very tasty even if you don't have a baking stone. Just let them rise on a large baking sheet (I highly recommend these commercial half-size baking sheets and put that straight into the oven. You might want to increase the oven temperature a little bit (25 to 50 degrees) to make up for that big blast of heat the loaves won't be getting by placing them directly on the baking stone.

    Hi Barbara,
    Great to hear my Mexican Jumping Bean Slaw was a big hit! Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know.

    Hi Farmer Jen & Fritinancy,
    I'm so glad you enjoyed it! : )

    Hi Anon,
    I haven't tried tuna in olive oil but have heard other people rave about it. I definitely need to try some one of these days. And I love the idea of a dollop of yogurt mixed into tuna salad - thanks for the tip!

    Thanks again, everybody! : )

  21. You have a great blog. I check it out everyday. Your picture of the Swiss Chard Tuna Salad inspired me to plant some Swiss Chard. Have never eaten it before. Won't be long before I do tho! Thanks so much.

  22. Ever try lovage as a substitute for celery?

  23. LOVE loved this recipe. We ate it on the patio while watching the chard regrow its leaves to spite us.

    Still, quite good. Thank you!

  24. Yummy! I was so inspired by this recipe (having two boxes of chard certainly helps)--I didn't make a tuna salad, but I did use the idea for a potato/egg salad. Delish.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  25. This looks really delicious. Swiss chard is so darn healthy, too! I always prefer that or spinach over plain old lettuce any day :).

  26. Aahhh, rainbow chard is so beautiful and tasty. I added it to my usual creamy spelt risotto last night and it added a new level of earthiness to the meal - love the blog and the gorgeous photos. Thank you!

  27. I made this yesterday, and it was so delicious! I halved the recipe - just enough for moi although I didn't halve the rainbow chard because in that case - more is better! I'm going to try it with canned salmon next time. Thanks for your great blog!

  28. I made this recipe and love it! My husband loves salads that have some tang, which the balsamic vinegar gives here. This recipe has gone into my 'favorites' book - I have a notebook with plastic page covers for recipes that I have tried and that got a thumbs up from my hubby. I have made this recipe with shrimp and have added pasta (had to add more sauce for that one).

  29. LOVED THIS DISH! I followed the recipe exactly except that I used light mayo and added one diced red pepper, which made the dish look even prettier. Thanks for a great recipe. It's a keeper for me!

  30. Just made swiss chard and tuna salad sandwiches on dark rye for dinner and it was wonderful. I have a garden and grow my own swiss chard and also can fresh tuna each season. To that I added tomatoes from the greenhouse. I was surprised at how mellow the flavor of the raw chard is with the tuna. They're a really great combo. I'm so happy to come across this recipe! Chard grows really well here on the southern Oregon coast. We grow a ton of it because our chickens love it. I only have a few ways that I prepare chard, so it's always really cool to run across an easy recipe that I really like and always have the ingredients on hand. Thanks Susan!

  31. Thought of this recipe last night as I was staring at my rainbow lights swiss chard and wondering just what to do next. Had it for lunch today and it's delicious!! What a great combination. Thanks Susan!


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

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