Upping Your Tuna Salad Game + Easy Recipes using Canned Tuna!

Change up your salad with new additions. Maybe not all of them at once!

Like many of you, I have probably for most of my life made tuna salad pretty much like my mother did. A can of tuna, a few spoons of mayo, one chopped hard cooked egg, a little onion, pickle and celery and — Fanny’s your aunt — hot weather lunch was served with little or no stove time. Over the years, though, as my cooking developed, so did my tuna salad. One year I was shocked to see that a happy little bit of lemon zest had slipped into the mixing bowl by “mistake.” Whoa! Another time a dab of perky horseradish became a sudden, but happy addition. Soon, though not always, cucumbers/fennel/carrots/bell peppers joined the party along with a good healthy spoonful of Dijon-style mustard, cornichons leftover from a wine and cheese event I catered, and —wait for it — a big splash of red wine vinegar. The biggest change was the consistent use of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, along with the occasional herbs, no matter what else I dumped in. Why didn’t I ever season my tuna salad before? (Mom, you didn’t tell me.) Of course I often ate it on toast, but sometimes I went with the old school ladies’ lunch counter lower-carb style: spooned into the middle of a quartered tomato, hopefully ripe. Other weeks, I thinned it out and ate it scooped up with potato chips or Triscuits (HELLO, TUNA DIP!!) — Triscuits being one of my most unknown addictions. (The rye were the best, but they discontinued them–sob, sob. Now I’m even more stuck on the organic thin variety. Try them and see. Nope, I’m not on Nabisco’s payroll.) After a while, my tuna salad was never the same twice in a row. Who knew what would happen next to my trusty, inexpensive summer fun food? And, by the way, how did we come to eat so much tuna fish?? 

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FRIDAY FISH: Salmon and Fresh Tomato Salsa on Garlicky Cauliflower Mash…and a Little Plating Fun

With as much fish as we’re supposed to eat for health and six weeks of Friday Fish for Lent every year on this blog (this is now our second Covid Lent), salmon comes up pretty often on our menu. Our friend Chris likes to say, “Puh-leeze give me something else to do with salmon!” Over the years, I’ve come to enjoy serving salmon with at least two vegetables — so you’ve seen a few variations on this theme — hoping to eat less carbs or save them for some bread. I also simply want to increase our vegetable intake. Serving a smaller portion of fatty fish or red meat on a bed of vegetables or just to the side is not only a healthier way to eat (more vegetables), it makes the protein appear larger, more attractive, and puts it front and center for its closeup — an old tried and true restaurant ploy. So if it’s not really something new to do with salmon, it might just look and taste better!

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Lamb Chops with Turnip-Rutabaga Orzo

Meals like this are why you need a stovetop grill pan for the winter.

“Rutabaga” comes from rotabagge, the plant’s Swedish name, meaning “baggy root.” This is, perhaps, the reason that it’s sometimes called a Swedish turnip or simply a swede. Dense and sweetly earthy, a spheroid that can grow to the size of a human head, with a mottled, brown-and-white surface and a buttery, yellow interior, the rutabaga looks like an overgrown turnip—which it is, sort of, at least on its mother’s side. A reproductive quirk of the Brassica genus allows for uncommonly easy hybridization (see the evidence in your local grocery store: kalettes, the frilly little greens that were 2014’s sexy new vegetable, are a cross between kale and Brussels sprouts). Somewhere, in the misty meadows of Central Europe, a turnip got frisky with a cabbage, and the rutabaga was born. This genetic history was confirmed only recently, in 1935, by the Korean-Japanese agricultural scientist Woo Jang-choon. But, three hundred years before, Bauhin, with his eye for botanical detail, saw to name the plant napobrassica, the turnip-cabbage.

Helen Rosner, NEW YORKER: “What Rutabaga Does Better Than Anything Else: A Recipe for… (Rutabaga Noodles Cacio e Pepe)”

Doesn’t this woman write in a way that makes you want to read anything she scribbles down on a cocktail napkin? If we could go out for cocktails, that is.


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Salmon Cheese Spread – PLUS: How To Get More Salmon in Your Life

Fast, simple app or fun dinner. #justaddrosé

I love salmon and maybe you do, too? Perhaps like me, you still occasionally wonder about what else you could do with it despite your unwavering devotion. You could just want better quality fish or how about a better $$ deal? (More later on that.) There are times I move into the fancy-schmancy or innovative lane — mostly because some uber ripe produce is shooting me dark looks from the counter or it could be I’m dreaming of a company meal even when no company’s in sight. Like lately. I miss friends and family coming for dinner. Most of us do, I guess–even those who don’t like to cook!

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FRIDAY FISH: Skillet Lentils and Tuna for Dinner

Flexible is this meal’s middle name. Change out the vegetables, broth, protein, and/or herbs to make it your own.

I don’t remember eating lentils as a kid. Even lentil soup — on many tables this week as it’s such a pantry-friendly meal — came to me in adulthood, albeit from a much-loved friend and oddly enough during a hot week at the beach on the Outer Banks. If I ate it earlier, I have no memory of the meal and more’s the pity. The “Lentil” I knew was the Lentil of Caldecott Award- winning author Robert McCloskey (MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS) fame since I’m a lifelong avid reader and also trained and worked as a school librarian at one time in my life.

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FRIDAY FISH: One-Pot Shrimp and Asparagus Rice


I wasn’t taught to fast as a child; it wasn’t part of our tradition, but was something those interesting Catholics down the street did. I was happy as a clam about that because it meant I got cheese pizza on Friday nights at my Catholic girlfriends’ houses. This was so cool because, 1) to “give up meat” seemed a neat thing (foreign) to me and 2) There was no pizza, aka “junk food,” at my house.

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FRIDAY FISH: Cheesy Crab and Corn Chowder

I’m not big on giving something up for Lent, though I’m observant as a progressive protestant Christian can be. I’ve been writing FRIDAY FISH every week on the blog for five years now just as a way to think about fasting from meat and to increase our health. What’s happened is that I’ve become more of a fish and seafood cook and have gone out on a pole limb recipe-wise. Gotten out of my recipe card so to speak. Each year I’m catching something new (oh, gee), tweaking an old dish, or just looking for less-expensive or more available options –particularly for those of us who live in landlocked states like Colorado where fish is available, but not on the scale or quality it is on the coasts.

…scroll down for more info on lent or eating fish on Fridays…

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