Friday, March 22, 2013

Whole Foods Friday: Two Tuna Salads

When I was growing up, the only tuna I was familiar with came in a can and was incredibly inexpensive. Most of it went into tuna noodle casserole.

It was quite a while later that I discovered fresh tuna.

And even longer before I found out that all canned tuna isn't bargain-basement stuff. The better-quality tuna has great flavor without being "fishy." It tastes like tuna should. I picked up one small 6.7-ounce jar of tuna and used it to make two completely different dishes.

First up was a composed salad reminiscent of the nicoise salad.

I really like composed salads like this. You can nibble at the bits you like, taste different combinations together, and make the salad a lovely shared dish that you can take your time over.

Once you have the components for this salad prepared, you can arrange them on one large plate, or on multiple smaller plates. This can be an appetizer, first course, or light lunch. It can be served as is, or made a little more substantial with the addition of some crusty bread and butter or some crackers and an array of cheeses.

Homage to Nicoise 
Recipe © by Do not republish without permission.
1 small bunch asparagus
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 pound baby potatoes, cooked and chilled
1/2 cup olives
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 6.7-ounce jar tuna in oil
Olive oil, as needed
Large flake salt

Trim the tough ends off the asparagus, then steam until tender, but still some crispness. As soon as it's done, plunge it into ice water to stop the cooking and keep the vibrant green color.

Arrange the asparagus on a plate and drizzle with the lemon juice.

The potatoes I used were very small - one bite each. If your potatoes are larger, cut them in half or into quarters. Arrange them on the plate as well.

Cut the tomatoes in half and arrange them with the olives, and then add the tuna to the plate.

Drizzle the potatoes with a bit of olive oil (if you like, you can use some of the oil from the tuna).

Sprinkle large flake salt over the plate, as desired.

Old-School Tuna Salad
Recipe © by Do not republish without permission.
Since the tuna was so flavorful, I decided to use the rest of the jar to make tuna salad. You could use this for sandwiches or serve it on a lettuce leaf. Or serve a small scoop on top of an avocado half for a particularly decadent dish. This would also be nice as an appetizer on crackers with a garnish of chives or chopped pickles.

2 hard boiled eggs, peeled
1 shallot, diced
1 teaspoon capers
1 teaspoon sweet relish
1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 6.7-ounce jar tuna in oil

Cut the eggs into small chunks and place in a small bowl. Add the shallot, capers, relish, and 1 tablespoon mayonnaise. Stir to combine.

Add the tuna, and if you like, a little bit of the oil - it has a lot of flavor. Stir gently to combine, but try to keep the tuna in larger chunks. If you think it needs more mayonnaise, add another tablespoon.