Mediterranean cooks know that a simple can of tuna can become the backbone of a broad range of easy, satisfying meals.

But it helps to start with quality tuna. We recommend European or U.S.-canned solid, oil-packed tuna. Look for meaty albacore (sometimes labeled “white”) or bonito tuna. The oil in which the tuna is packed often can be used in the dish being prepared rather than discarded.

Italians add canned tuna to a variety of pasta dishes. Try blending tuna into the simple Roman sauce of sautéed garlic, chili flakes and extra-virgin olive oil (aglio e olio) and toss with spaghetti. Or follow Marcella Hazan’s lead and flake tuna into your favorite marinara to serve with chopped parsley and crunchy breadcrumbs. For a bolder version, add tuna to our caper and olive-rich puttanesca.

If you like tuna with eggs, fold it into your next egg salad, adding chopped thyme, a dash of smoked paprika and sweet-spicy pickled peppers. Tuna also is a classic variation on a Spanish potato-and-onion tortilla, added along with the eggs so it won’t overcook.

Adding tuna to potato salad turns it into a main course. Patatas aliñadas, a tapas standard, is coarsely mashed potato salad flavored with minced red onion, jalapeño, parsley, red wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil. The potatoes are dressed warm to soak up the liquid, then tuna is scattered over it and dusted with smoked paprika.

To Use:

Italian Bean and Artichoke Salad with Olive Oil Tuna

This salad relies on convenient jarred artichokes and roasted red peppers for easy, bold flavor. Heating the beans in the microwave pulls flavors inward so that the beans are seasoned to the core. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine two 15½-ounce cans Roman or cannellini (drained) beans with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cover and microwave until hot, 1½ to 2 minutes. Immediately add 1 cup coarsely chopped artichoke hearts, ½ cup chopped pepperoncini, roasted peppers or roasted red peppers, ⅓ cup red wine vinegar and ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil. Cool to room temperature, then stir in a 5-ounce can oil-packed tuna (drained), and chopped basil or arugula.

Sugar Snap Pea and Radish Salad with Olive Oil Tuna

This was inspired by a salad by chef Joshua McFadden and uses a tuna-flavored mayonnaise typically slathered on veal or turkey cutlets. The mayonnaise also is delicious on tomatoes or served as a crudités dip. Pair the salad with a baguette or crusty bread.

In a blender, combine a 5-ounce can oil-packed tuna (drained) with 1 tablespoon each lemon zest and juice, 2 teaspoons fish sauce (or 2 anchovies) and ¼ cup mayonnaise. Blend until smooth, then with the machine running, trickle in 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and blend until smooth. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.

Blanch 1 pound trimmed sugar snap peas in well-salted boiling water until just tender, about 2 minutes. Cool quickly under running water, blot dry, cut in half and transfer to a large bowl. Add 1 bunch thinly sliced radishes, 1 cup chopped basil or parsley, and 2 tablespoons each extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice and poppy seeds before tossing and seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the mayonnaise mixture over the surface of a large serving plate and mound the salad on top. Flake another 5-ounce can oil-packed tuna (drained) over the top.

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