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Paleo Creamy Tuna Salad

I grew up on tuna salad. It was heavy in mayo, yellow mustard, and dill relish.

I’ve learned though the years that everyone has his or her own definition of what tuna salad should taste like. While my childhood tuna salad is yellow and filled with dill pickles, others think sweet pickles and mayo are the way to go.

Although I will still whip up a bright yellow pickle-packed tuna salad on occasion, today I want to share a recipe for tuna salad that’s fit for queens, picky eaters, and tuna salad elitists.

Of the many talented, knowledgeable, and beautiful people I met this past weekend at PaleoFX, the lovely Danielle from Against All Grain definitely stands out. Danielle led a cooking demonstration where she made a paleo alfredo using cashews as the base for her cream sauce. She explained the value in soaking then dehydrating your own raw nuts. To say I found this inspiring is an understatement. I’ve been researching and experimenting like crazy.

The gist: raw nuts are essentially frozen in time. Their nutrients are on lock-down by way of enzyme inhibitors until nature decides it’s time to germinate (triggered by water). To get the full nutritional benefit from a nut, soak then dehydrate.

Danielle’s new book, Against All Grain, comes out this month. Be sure to grab a copy and visit her awesome site!

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I made a savory lemon cashew sauce to replace the mayonnaise typically found in tuna salad. I stirred it together with some fresh green apples, celery, and olive oil-packed tuna. Eat it with a spoon or on some butter lettuce.

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First things first, if you’re venturing into the world of soaking and then dehydrating your own raw nuts in an effort to remove the enzyme inhibitors and enhance the nutritional profile your body can actually absorb, follow me. If not, skip ahead to when I start on the savory lemon cashew sauce.

Take 1.5 cups raw cashews, add 1 tsp kosher salt, and cover with water. Soak at room temperature for about 3 hours. Remove from water and dehydrate at 150 F for about 16 hours. Now they’re ready!

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Put the 1.5 cups of cashews in a food processor.

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Add ½ tsp garlic powder.

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Then add ½ tsp onion powder.

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½ tsp kosher salt.

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The juice of 2 lemons and then finally, add ½ cup water and turn the food processor on. It could take about 2 minutes for it to mix properly.

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In the meantime, start working on the tuna for the salad. Use tuna packed in olive oil, if you can find it. It has so much more flavor.

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Drain off the excess olive oil using the can lid and later smush down with your fingers.

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Now that the olive oil has made your cuticles look salon fresh (I like to imagine RHOA Nene saying “oooh girl, look at your faabulous cuticles), add the tuna to a bowl.

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Fluff the tuna with a fork.

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Chop one big green apple into bite-sized pieces.

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Chop 6 stalks of celery.

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Crack a cold one.

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And um … as long as we’re taking a break, meet Max! We call him the Little General. He’s large (except very small) and in charge. Max is alpha in our large puppy family and takes very special care of my sweet Gus. He’s constantly dodging giant puppy punches and slobbery kisses (it only takes Gus one slobbery swipe to paste Max’s eyebrows to his forehead) to make sure that Gus is in top working order. I love him dearly.

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Now your savory lemon cashew cream sauce should be ready.

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Add it to the other ingredients.

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Stir until mixed really well.

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Meet Mr. Butter Lettuce. We’re best friends. Break off a few of your favorite leaves and fill with the creamy tuna salad goodness.

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Ina Garden recommends sliced radishes with tuna salad. I’d probably jump off a cliff if Ina recommended it. Radishes it is!

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Enjoy.

Paleo Creamy Tuna Salad

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

15 oz Solid Light Tuna in Olive Oil

1 ½ cups Cashews

1 Large Green Apple

6 Celery Stalks

½ tsp Garlic Powder

½ tsp Onion Powder

½ tsp Kosher Salt

2 Lemons Juiced

½ cup Water

8 Large Butter Lettuce Leaves

5 Radishes Sliced Thinly (optional)

Directions:

Cover raw cashews with water, add 1 tsp kosher salt, and soak for 3 hours. After, dehydrate at 150 F for approximately 16 hours.

In a food processor, combine cashews, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, lemon juice, and water. Blend for about 2 minutes or until evenly combined.

Drain tuna of all excess olive oil, add to a bowl, and fluff with a fork.

Chop apple and celery then add to tuna.

Stir in the cashew cream sauce.

Eat with a spoon or in butter lettuce.

Optional: top with sliced radishes.

Enjoy!

Time: 15 minute active, 1 day prep (for raw nut prep)

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dehydrate for 16 hours? In the oven? Or is there an actual dehydrator?

    April 4, 2013
    • You can either use the oven or an actual dehydrator. I use a dehydrator overnight. Hope that helps!

      April 4, 2013
  2. Brenda #

    You are a genius!! I can not wait to try this. I LOVE cashews and have been mayo-free since January. Your mama makes the best potato salad I have ever had, so I am wondering if this might not work as a substitute there as well?

    April 4, 2013
    • Haha thanks, Brenda!! I think it’d make a great substitute in the potato salad too – she agrees 🙂

      April 5, 2013

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