The French and Italians seriously know what's up.
I went for the opposite. My version is inspired by the flavors of French cooking, and is bright and sunny and light. Like its classic cousin, macaroni elbows (gluten free!) and canned tuna provide a base. But I embellished with crunchy slices of celery hearts, sweet pops of peas, and salty twangs of oil cured black olives and capers. Fresh parsley, tarragon, and dill from my garden add a fresh, green flavor, and I finished it off with a wickedly good anchovy and mustard dressing. The best part? The macaroni is totally outnumbered by the tuna and the green, green, green of veggies and herbs, and it doesn't leave you feeling heavy at all.
This is not low sodium by any means - the anchovies, capers, olives, and fish sauce all have a significant amount of sodium. To reduce the amount of sodium, you can also use water or vinegar packed capers instead of salt packed; the flavor will be slightly different, but it will reduce the sodium. You can also omit the fish sauce if desired. Look for unsalted tuna, and rinse off the anchovies before using them in the dressing. I like going to Trader Joe's for both tuna and anchovies - their tuna is packed in just water or olive oil (no soy-based vegetable broth or other additives!), and their olive oil packed anchovies are really great too. And because it is Trader Joe's, you can get them for a great price! I used water packed tuna in this recipe, but olive oil packed would also be delicious. Oil packed tuna is richer and heavier, while water packed tuna is flakier and light - follow your personal preference.
FRENCH TUNA MACARONI SALAD WITH ANCHOVY MUSTARD DRESSING (gluten free)
Anchovy Mustard Dressing
Prepare dressing: rinse the anchovies, then put all the ingredients except the olive oil in a blender, and blend until totally liquified. Gradually add the oil, and blend until emulsified and well combined; adjust seasonings to taste as desired. It should fairly thick, but still pourable; only add more oil or water as needed. Put in a small jar in the fridge until ready to use.
Prepare pasta: Next, prepare the pasta according to the instructions on the packaging. Cook only until just al dente, then strain and rinse well under cool water. DO NOT OVER COOK! After rinsing, put in a large bowl to cool, drizzle with just a little olive oil, and stir around to coat. Your pasta won't stick together as it cools this way!
Prepare the rest of the ingredients: Thinly slice shallots. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a small pan, and saute over medium heat until caramelly and brown. Add to bowl with pasta. Wash and thinly slice celery on a diagonal, pit and coarsely chop the olives, drain and break up tuna into small pieces, and measure peas and capers. Add everything to the bowl with pasta and shallots. Mince tarragon and dill, and also add to bowl. Toss ingredients gently a few times to mix, then pour on dressing and gently stir ingredients together until evenly moistened and mixed.
Transfer to serving bowl, cover, and chill for 1-2 hours to let flavors meld.
Serve and enjoy!