Canned tuna: Love it or hate it?
I like it. (And I don't know why tuna casserole gets a bad rap. I was surprised at the "icks" and "euws" in response to this recipe when it was posted on Facebook. It's such great comfort food! I abhor food snobs and sometimes I adore a good, old-fashioned casserole.)
I never tasted tuna until high school. It wasn't in my mother's cooking repertoire. But it was a staple in school hot-lunch programs: Tuna casserole and tuna salad, one with noodles, the other with elbow macaroni or shells, both with peas, onions and celery.
Cold tuna salad enjoys a higher place on the food scale, it seems, perhaps because it is a bit more versatile.
On the plane to Paris last trip we had a very delicious cold tuna dish, something with rice and olives with a definite twist of lemon. (Air France food is better than most, I've found, even when it's catered out of Detroit.)
I tried to recreate it below, using quinoa instead of rice, and making use of what I had on hand, as usual.
Tuna-Quinoa Salad with Peppers and Olives
- 12-14 grape or cherry tomatoes, split in two
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh red pepper, chopped (add some green for color)
- 1/4 cup blanched almonds
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 1 cup of quinoa
- 5-ounce can of tuna (I used Bumblebee sun-dried tomato tuna in oil), undrained
- 2.25-ounce can black olives, sliced or chopped
- dash lemon zest
- sea salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350.
Slice tomatoes in half, drizzle with olive oil and a healthy shake of garlic powder (or a clove of minced garlic) and roast in oven until tomatoes begin to shrivel and turn slightly brown. Set aside to cool.
Chop onion and pepper. Place 2 teaspoons of butter in small sautée pan and brown the onion and peppers. Add blanched almonds, and brown those as well. Set aside to cool.
Prepare quinoa according to package directions. My quinoa was from a mix than contained spinach, onion and currants, but plain, unflavored quinoa will work just as well. When quinoa has cooked, drain if necessary, and set aside to cool.
Once all ingredients have cooled, toss with a small can of black olives. Add lemon zest and seasonings. Since there is already olive oil in the dish, there should be no need for additional dressing. This cold salad is best served after chilling for at least 2 hours.
Obviously this is a make-ahead dish, especially since all ingredients should be cool before tossing.
If you are using plain quinoa, the addition of a dash or two of Mediterranean seasoning blend, like this one, will add some zip.