DIY Dining Hall: Cafeteria Creamy Tuna Dip

The funnest part about making your own tuna dip is getting to scrounge around the cafeteria for flavorful ingredients.

This recipe takes advantage of nearly all lines and counters at Brown’s main dining hall. Ingredients from the grill line provide crispness (lettuce, onions, relish), the drink station offers some zing (lemon), the Tastes of the World line contributes tartness and spice (scallions, sour cream), and the salad bar packs protein and vitamins (tuna, green bell peppers). Bringing it all together, we have the spice rack (garlic, ginger, paprika), soup station (cracked black pepper, crackers) and burger condiments counter (mayo). Trust us, the good amount of walking around required in making this dish make the first bite of that creamy-tuna-laden-cracker ever more delightful.


Connie and Annie are sisters and bloggers making the most of dining hall fare at the Ratty, Brown University’s dining hall. They blog at Ratty Gourmet.


Creamy Tuna Dip
Serves 1

juice of 2 lemon wedges
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup tuna
1/4 teaspoon paparika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
a pinch of garlic salt
a few turns of black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ginger powder
2 tablespoons diced green bell peppers
3 tablespoons scallions
1 tablespoon white onions
3 teaspoon relish
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 hard boiled egg
2 lettuce leaves
1 lemon wedge for presentation
Crackers, pita, or toast for diping

Mix all the ingredients up to the mayonnaise in a cup. Peel the egg, dice it up, and gently fold it into the dip with a fork. Spoon the dip onto the lettuce on a plate, garnish on the side with a lemon wedge and garnish the top with scallions and paprika. Serve with crackers.

Originally posted on Monday, September 12th, 2011

6 Responses to “DIY Dining Hall: Cafeteria Creamy Tuna Dip”

  1. Gera Mae

    September 13th, 2011

    So i love this recipe and i totally wish i could make it, but most of those ingredients are not in my dinning hall. I would be lucky if lemon wedges where there!
    If I wanted to make this recipe I would most likely have to get the dinning hall tuna salad on the salad bar which is soooo overly mayoed!

    PLEASE HELP me and those in similar situations!

  2. Jen Cantin

    September 14th, 2011

    Hey Gera Mae,

    Well cans of tuna don’t need refrigeration so if you have access to a store maybe you could stock up on a few? Just remember a can opener unless you can find the pull-tab kind. I’d suggest maybe try mixing the tuna with a creamy dressing like ranch or parmesan peppercorn since those already have seasonings in them, if you don’t have a spice station in the caf. And there should be onions and peppers at the salad bar (which hopefully you guys have!), and maybe pickles too that could sub for relish? Or pickles from the sandwich station.

    Also, maybe you could ask dining hall staff about getting small quantities of spices. I’ve never done this before, so I don’t know how common this is, but if there’s a staff member who is particularly nice, you might feel comfortable asking them. They might be able to grab you a little plastic cup of something that would last you awhile.

    So yeah, that’s my long comment, I write for this site too, thanks for visiting us! Good luck! And thanks Connie and Annie for this recipe that is quite crave-able, I can taste the creamy tuna and crunchy cracker now!


  3. Annie

    September 17th, 2011

    Hey Gera Mae and Jen!

    Thanks for your comments! Gera Mae – it’s tough dealing with over-mayoed tuna salad, or pre-mixed/pre-made things in general (I tend to be a control freak when it comes to stuff I eat), and I would agree with Jen that the only way around that is really just to get your own canned tuna and add spices from there. I would just treat the over-mayoed tuna salad as more of a sandwich spread (more like, tuna flavored mayo) and spread it thinly on sandwiches for flavor. Actually, that’s got me thinking; I think I’ll make “tuna mayo” for my next sandwich!

    Jen – the idea of mixing salad dressings into canned tuna is awesome! Definitely a good strategy for quick fixes before an afternoon class. :)


  4. Cuckoo Rice Cooker

    September 23rd, 2011

    Great photos! What camera did you use?

  5. Lanterns for Weddings

    September 27th, 2011

    Would it be the same if I used real ginger instead of ginger powder?

  6. Annie

    September 27th, 2011

    @Cuckoo – thanks! People usually don’t believe me when I tell them this but we use a regular point and shoot – Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS. I find that even if you don’t have a fancy camera, you can still get decent photos if you have a steady hand, get the right angle/focus, and find good, natural lighting (indirect sunlight works best).

    @Lanterns – Real ginger has a strong bite to it, and personally I’m a fan of its extra spiciness. For this recipe, you might want to add just a tiny bit of grated ginger since it’s quite spicy especially when it’s raw; taste it and add more accordingly!

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