I'm always on the hunt for quick, healthy, low-calorie, low-carb make-ahead lunches. Protein is a real priority, so is a healthy vegetable. Enter the tuna salad that for a year now, has captured my heart, one lunch after another. The tuna salad is based on the
Italian Tuna Salad from Viviano’s Festa Italiano in my column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Like the rest of us, until now I dashed together tuna salad without thought, a little onion, a little celery, a spoonful or two mayonnaise and voila, there it is, tuna salad.
WORD DANCERS Last week a blogger wrote not voila but viola. Ooops. Ever since, the word dancer in me is entertained by intentionally using the wrong word. With tuna salad, I'd say something like, "Viola! That's it!" Tee hee. #ButIDigress
Viviano's tuna salad omits the onion and celery and substitutes olives. What a simple but profound revelation! Olives add a burst of dense saltiness really works with meaty, creamy tuna. I like the tuna-olive combination so much that some times, I skip all the rest except a touch of salt and pepper.
But then there's the vegetable angle. Spinach leaves and chard leaves make great wraps when you're in a Wrap 'n' Eat mode. Me, I wanted Wrap 'n' Hold tuna salad, something that keeps for a day or two. Bok choy leaves are excellent, they really hold together without wilting or going mushy. And – bonus – bok choy has that lovely peppery bite, like arugula.
PLEASE HELP? BEST TUNA BRANDS The "one trick" to making really good tuna salad is the tuna. For a year now, I've sampled different tuna products and kept notes on which tuna brands/products are good. But I'll be cat food if I can find that piece of paper with all those notes. :-( Still, for starters, Cook's Illustrated picks Starkist solid white tuna and Epicurious likes the Whole Foods brand, 365 Everyday's "chunk light tongol tuna in spring water". Better marks are given to tuna in pouches versus tuna in cans. If you have a favorite tuna, will you share it, please?
RECIPE for TUNA SALAD BOK CHOY WRAPS
Time to table: 10 minutes
Makes 1 cup tuna salad
5 ounces (140g) tuna in water
3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
10 (40g) pitted kalamata olives, chopped
3 tablespoons low-fat or regular mayonnaise
Salt & pepper to taste
Bok choy leaves
With a fork, gently break apart the tuna – but just break it apart, don't mash it to mush. Stir in the remaining ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve, the flavors do meld in a couple of hours if there's time, otherwise serve right away.
LUNCH ASAP Place a scoop of tuna salad on top of a bok choy leaf and sprinkle with a squeeze of lemon juice. Wrap the bok choy around the tuna salad and dig in!
MAKE-AHEAD LUNCHES Wrap a scoop of tuna salad in a bok choy leaf and refrigerate with a wedge of lemon for up to two days.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
PALEO PEOPLE & WHOLE30 PEOPLE You'll want to make Homemade Mayonnaise with paleo-approved and whole30-approved oils such as nut oils like walnut oil and macadamia oil, seed oils like flaxseed oil and plant oils like avocado oil. (Some olive oils and coconut oils are also paleo friendly and whole30 friendly but don't work well in mayonnaise: olive oil mayonnaise is just too-too strong and coconut oil will firm up in the refrigerator.) Luckily, homemade mayonnaise is no chore at all – so-so easy, like five-minutes easy, really. Plus, you get to season the mayonnaise how you like it, not how a company has decided mayo should taste. I tend to go extra-lemony, especially for tuna salad. Not excited about that? I've seen recipes that substitute guacamole for mayonnaise. Laura's Famous Chunky Guacamole would work great!
NO OLIVES? I like capers too, especially the little bitty ones. They're also totally salty, some times I soak them a bit while making the rest of the salad.
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MORE FAVORITE TUNA RECIPES~ Tuna Salad Vegged Up ~
~ Farmgirl's Swiss Chard Tuna Salad ~
~ Tuna & White Bean Dip ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ more tuna recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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