An antipasto tuna salad puts all those refrigerator jars to good use

This salad started as a make-do moment but wound up a favorite I’ve made again and again. On my way home from the gym one afternoon, my appetite tipping dangerously into the hangry zone, I did a mental inventory of what I had at home for lunch and landed on one of my simplest go-tos: oil-packed tuna tossed with lettuce, a squeeze of lemon juice and a handful of olives.

But when I got home I realized I had no lettuce - there was nothing in my crisper drawer but a slightly wilted bunch of celery and some parsley. I was so hungry (and annoyed) I nearly started eating the tuna out of the jar, when I spotted the containers of marinated artichokes and roasted red peppers in the door of my refrigerator. Bingo! I had a better idea.

I rough-chopped the vegetables, which wound up being a lovely combination of soft, sweet peppers, vinegary artichokes, briny olives, grassy parsley leaves and still-crunchy-enough celery. I added about half of the jar of tuna, flaking it with a fork, along with some of the oil it was packed in. Then I tossed everything with lemon zest and juice and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.

I enjoyed the salad so much I have made it multiple times since, using whatever jars of antipasti I have around, such as marinated mushrooms, pepperoncini or whatever is lingering my refrigerator, fennel and/or onion instead of the celery, and dill instead of parsley, for example. The experience has left me even more confident with the idea of “no lettuce, no problem” when I need to whip us a quick salad, especially since it’s so easy to keep jars of antipasti on hand.

• Ellie Krieger is a registered dietitian nutritionist and cookbook author who hosts public television’s “Ellie’s Real Good Food.” Learn more at

Use whatever olives you have on hand for the green olives called for and press them to release the pits. Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Gina Nistico

Tuna Antipasto Salad

Storage: Refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Where to buy: Good-quality canned tuna, such as Ortiz or Tonnino brands, can be found at well-stocked supermarkets, specialty stores and online.

1 (6-ounce) jar good-quality tuna packed in olive oil (see Where to buy)

1 rib celery, diced

1 jarred roasted red pepper, diced (¼ cup)

½ cup jarred marinated artichokes, drained and cut into bite-size pieces

1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

¼ cup green olives, preferably Castelvetrano, pitted and sliced

½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Freshly ground black pepper

Reserve 1 tablespoon of the oil from the jar, then drain the tuna.

Transfer the tuna to a medium bowl and flake with a fork. Add the celery, roasted pepper, artichokes, parsley, olives, lemon zest and juice, and the reserved oil, and toss to combine. Season to taste with black pepper, and serve right away or refrigerate until needed.

Substitutions: Instead of jarred red pepper, use quartered grape or cherry tomatoes. No lemon juice? Use red wine vinegar. Instead of oil-packed tuna, use water-packed tuna plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Use whatever olives you have on hand for the green olives.

Serves 2 (makes about 2½ cups)

Nutrition per serving (about 1¼ cups): 312 calories, 9g carbohydrates, 26mg cholesterol, 20g fat, 2g fiber, 24g protein, 2g saturated fat, 877mg sodium, 2g sugar

¬ From cookbook author and registered dietitian nutritionist Ellie Krieger.

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