Advanced Brown Bagging: 9 New Ideas for Canned Tuna

While we're always in favor of using fresh ingredients, the occasional shelf stable item can be a dinnertime lifesaver. Case in point: tuna fish. Oil or water-packed, jarred or canned, tuna is a grocery store item with never-ending versatility. Sarah Carey recently shared her recipe for a cozily nostalgic tangy tuna salad (a.k.a. a brown bag's best friend), but we've also rounded up 9 other tuna recipes that are worth trying out. Added bonus: since so many of these meals can easily be made-ahead, they'll provide great inspiration for those looming school lunches.

Tiny Tuna Melts

Can you love a meal just because it's cute? Sure! But these adorably petite tuna melts also happen to be two bites of deliciousness. The recipe calls for cheddar cheese, but gruyere or Monterey Jack would work well, too.

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Tuna Bean Panzanella

Using day-old bread creates a satisfying crunch that is about one step down from jawbreaking salad croutons. Test kitchen tip: rinse sliced red onions under cool water to remove some of their bite.

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Related: Healthy Afternoon Snacks You'll Dream About All Day

Tuna Cakes

Why should crab have all the cake fun? Serve these crisp patties, spiced with cilantro and jalapeno, as a light dinner or form into mini cakes to make a party-worthy hors d'ouvres (cook 1 - 2 minutes per side it making bite size).

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Tuna and Caper Dip

A can of this, a jar of that, stir and serve. Could this crowd-pleasing dip be any simpler? Probably not, but that's only part of the reason why we love it (it's also unbelievably addictive when paired with crackers or crudite!).

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Tuna and Pesto Sandwich

Store bought pesto and water-packed tuna make this English muffin sandwich a simple and satisfying lunch. Radicchio adds an appealing color contrast and a slightly bitter crunch -- if the strong flavor isn't for you, opt for milder-tasting escarole or romaine.

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Related: 10 New Ways to Use Leftover Bacon Grease

Mediterranean Tuna Noodle Casserole

Need a reason to look forward to the end of summer? Here's one: it marks the return of comfort food! Nothing about this saucy, cheesy baked pasta is light or fresh but -- so what! -- it's a completely worthwhile indulgence. We say, bring the baking dish right to the table and dig right in.

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Cucumber and Celery Tuna Salad

Rice vinegar and poppy seeds hint at Asian flavors will continue to develop over time in this elegant meal. Make it a day in advance if possible.

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Spaghetti with Tuna and Capers

According to some members of team EDF, there is simply no way to beat the briny flavor of capers (we're looking at you, Sarah Carey). But add a bit of pecorino, breadcrumbs, and lemon zest into the mix and you'll create a dish so fragrant and bright, no one will be able to resist it. There will be plenty of cold months to spend hours simmering a sauce. In the meantime, make this 20 minute dinner.

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Tuna, Chickpea, and Beet Salad

Ok, so we couldn't finish this list without one last seasonal recipe (admit it, this gorgeous color combination is making you hungry right now!). Serve this hearty salad with crusty bread to sop up the sharp Dijon vinaigrette.

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More from Martha Stewart:
35 Beyond Delicious No-Bake Dessert Recipes
Quick, One-Pot Meal Ideas To Feed the Whole Family
15 New Ideas for a Healthy, Delicious Breakfast
15 Kitchen Shortcuts That Will Change the Way You Cook