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: 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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Hot Tuna Stuffed Peppers

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Before baking…

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…and after baking.

If I googled this dish, I’d probably find it. I prefer to think I dreamed it up in my very own kitchen. Which I did.  I don’t need to know it’s not original. Necessity is the mother of invention. I had “X” number of food items.  It looked like this outside:

IMG_3160I wasn’t going to the store.  I wasn’t going ANYWHERE. The mail lady said she could hardly make it up our hill with four-wheel-drive and chains. In other words, my car was staying in the garage where it belonged. I was making do with what I had on hand.

Like most cooks, I keep a full pantry year-round, but especially in the winter as I live within sight of the Rocky Mountains. Continue reading

Grilled Tuna Bowl Tonight–Rice and Beans for Lunch Tomorrow

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Have a healthy, happy Valentine’s Day!

Lately I’ve been looking for something I could make that would include:

  • protein
  • whole grains
  • vegetables
  • dark, leafy greens

Dave and I both love meals in bowls. The búns and salads at one of our favorite local Vietnamese restaurant, Saigon Cafe, are perfect one-dish meals because they’re full of noodles or greens, herbs, chicken or tofu or shrimp, and are happily topped by a tiny load of peanuts. The Chipotle bowls and salads are addictive and are happy layers of rice and beans with loads of spicy meat or crumbled tofu, my favorite vegan lunch to eat out. Rich and filling without being fattening, you can add cheese or guacamole if you’re feeling lean. The bright and just spicy enough pico de gallo is usually enough for me and I skip the extra fat calories.

At home I occasionally throw together similar meals, but generally leave it to the restaurants so we can enjoy the bowls there.  But when you eat all three meals together at home as we do (except when one of us travels, which is often), you begin to look for something that will be cooked up at either lunch or dinner, yet could provide leftovers for the next day so that you’re not always trying to create meals from scratch.  Today I spent the entire day going over the changes needed to be made to the book after the proof readers had their way with it.  I was buggy-eyed and sore-backed by the time I got out of my chair at 5.  (While it seems like it’s taking God’s own time, I’ve only been working on this book for a year and a half.  It’s just that I figured it’d be done just a bit more quickly.  Insert scream.)  In other words, I needed simple. Continue reading