Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A New Take on Tuna

Tuna sandwiches. I grew up on them and very possibly you did too. Though my mother and grandmother were both amazing cooks, tuna at our house was pretty basic: a can of tuna, enough Miracle Whip to hold it together, and slap it between a couple of slices of white bread. And hey, I was happy with that, until I ate lunch at a friend's house where tuna definitely went upscale. Her mom put a chopped hard-boiled egg and pickle relish in with the tuna and MW, and added lettuce, and since I was probably about 14 then, I asserted my right to make tuna that way at home too.
    I long ago fell out of love with Miracle Whip and smooshy white bread, but aside from using mayo and putting it on whole grain, my tuna sandwiches stayed pretty much the same. Sometimes I left out the egg, usually I added a goodly amount of chopped celery and some kind of lettuce, occasionally I put some grated cheese on top and either stuck it under the broiler for an open-face tuna melt or grilled it like a cheese sandwich. But today I tried something different and tasty:
This is Marc Matsumoto's Carrot, Tuna, and Avocado Salad, tucked into half a whole wheat pita, along with some arugula from the garden and slices of red pear. Digression alert: for years I didn't get excited over pears. They were okay, but as a kid I'd only ever tasted canned pears and they weren't terribly exciting. But a perfectly ripe, still crisp, fresh pear? That, my friends, can be something akin to a religious experience. And these red pears are just that - perfect.
     The recipe for the above tuna delight can be found at It calls for canned Italian tuna, which is packed in olive oil, but I didn't have any so I used good old Starkist water-packed and added a tiny drizzle of olive oil for flavor - just a bit. There is no mayonnaise in this salad, just 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, but we didn't miss it. The avocado fills that gap nicely. The recipe calls for julienned carrots but since I don't currently have a mandoline, I just grated them on the biggest holes of the box grater; it also calls for half an onion - I had a red one so I used that. Sweet onions would be great too (aren't they always?).
     I haven't banished my "regular" tuna salad from the repertoire, but this is a nice change. I've also played with mixing chopped olives, chopped capers, and crumbled feta cheese into my regular recipe (minus the egg and pickle relish), with less or no mayo (depending on how much feta you use), maybe just a little olive oil, and then grilling the sandwich or, if it's on, say, a split baguette, wrapping the whole thing in foil and heating it in a 350 oven for about 15 minutes. That's really good too.


  1. I grew up with the MW, tuna, relish and boiled egg. Now I have added finely chopped celery and chopped pecans. When the tomatoes are fresh from the vine, I'll quarter the tomato, then put a good scoop of the tuna in the middle, serve with butter type crackers( Club style). It's a wonderful lunch on a Saturday!

  2. yum! I also love the tuna/tomato lunch, and I'll definitely try adding pecans! Thanks!