Tuna Fish Salad With Fennel and Orange Salsa

tuna fish salad
Patsy Catsos, MS, RDN, LD
Total Time: 38 min
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 8 min
Servings: 4

Nutrition Highlights (per serving)

361 calories
17g fat
15g carbs
37g protein
Show Nutrition Label Hide Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving  
Calories 361
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 54mg 18%
Sodium 401mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 5%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 8g  
Includes 0g Added Sugars 0%
Protein 37g  
Vitamin D 2mcg 10%
Calcium 130mg 10%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 1340mg 29%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Fennel root, also known as anise, is a great stand-in for onion (a high-FODMAP ingredient) in terms of texture. Like onion, fennel has an earthy root flavor—but with a licorice flavor all its own. Roasting mellows that flavor and sweetens the taste.

Fennel is also nutritious. The vegetable provides fiber as well as potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. It has been used for hundreds of years in traditional medicine to treat digestive, endocrine, reproductive, and respiratory ailments and to help lactating mothers produce milk. In fact, according to at least one published report, fennel is the most widely used herbal plant.

This delicious orange-fennel salsa serves as the dressing for seared tuna served on a bed of baby spinach.


  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 2 tsp. garlic-infused olive oil
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 lbs. fresh tuna steak
  • 1 tsp. canola oil
  • 6 cups packed fresh baby spinach
  • 8-oz. fennel bulb (1 bulb)
  • 2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. garlic-infused olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium oranges
  • 5 Kalamata olives, pitted and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaf
  • 2 tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion greens
  • 1/16 tsp. salt
  • 1/16 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray a baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

  2. In a small bowl combine 2 teaspoons garlic-infused oil, smoked paprika, coriander, salt, and pepper. Brush tuna steaks on both sides with spice mixture and set aside.

  3. Cut stalks off the fennel bulb and discard. Cut the bulb in half through the root end. Cut out V-shaped "core" from each half at the root end and discard. Slice fennel halves into 1/4-inch thick planks and place on the baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of garlic-infused oil. Roast until the fennel turns medium golden brown with some dark brown spots, 11 to 13 minutes. Turn the pieces over and roast until browned on the other side, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

  4. While the fennel is roasting, thoroughly wash one orange and zest it into a medium serving bowl. Squeeze the fruit to make 1/4 cup orange juice. Peel and chop the fruit of another orange.

  5. To the orange zest, add the juice, chopped orange sections, olives, parsley, oregano, cider vinegar, scallions, remaining 2 tablespoons of garlic-infused oil, salt, and pepper. Coarsely chop the cooled, roasted fennel and stir it into the orange salsa. Stir occasionally as the flavors blend.

  6. Preheat a heavy skillet over medium heat; drizzle with canola oil. Add the tuna steaks to the pan and cook until browned on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on the other side.

  7. Remove the tuna from the heat when it is still slightly pink in the center; it will continue to cook as it rests. This cooking time is for 1-inch thick tuna steaks; if cooking thinner steaks, reduce the time. After 2 to 3 minutes of rest, slice the tuna into strips.

  8. For each serving, plate 1 1/2 cup baby spinach, add 1/2 cup Roasted Fennel Orange Salsa, then top with 1/4 of the seared tuna strips.

Variations and Substitutions

Instead of roasting the fennel, use it raw. Trim the bulb and slice it into paper-thin slices. The anise flavor is more prominent when fennel is consumed raw.

You can also use whatever olives you prefer. Kalamata olives provide a savory, briny flavor, but you can also use Niçoise olives, black olives, or dry Greek olives. Just be sure that they are pitted.

One pound of cooked chicken or pork tenderloin can be used in place of tuna. You can also use salmon or another firm fish, such as swordfish. If you want to make this dish vegan, sear or grill tofu and top your salad with it.

Cooking and Serving Tips

  • A fine rasp grater (Microplane brand, for instance) makes quick work of zesting citrus and makes it easy to avoid the bitter white pith. Citrus zest gives a great low-FODMAP flavor kick to any dressing or salsa.
  • Skip slicing the tuna into strips; cut the tuna steaks into four portions before searing, and place the whole piece on top of the salsa.
  • You can make an extra batch of salsa to enjoy on grilled fish or meat later in the week. Store in an airtight container for up to three days in the refrigerator.

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  1. Badgujar SB, Patel VV, Bandivdekar AH. Foeniculum vulgare Mill: a review of its botany, phytochemistry, pharmacology, contemporary application, and toxicologyBiomed Res Int. 2014;2014:842674. doi:10.1155/2014/842674