(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
After cooking and baking during the busy holiday season, you may be tempted by tuna in the new year. The simplicity of canned tuna is a go-to dish. Dressings that skip the usual route of being mixed up with the tuna and instead make their appearance under, over or on the side add easy gourmet touches.
A few fresh, light ingredients emerge repeatedly when acclaimed chefs dress up tuna salads. TV star and cookbook author Jamie Oliver likes to serve his tuna salad warm draped with fresh basil/olive oil/fresh lemon juice and more basil and yogurt in the dressing that is served at room temperature.
The Food Network Kitchen Italian-influenced dressing that follows also stresses the good companionship of fresh basil, olive oil and fresh lemon juice, as well as the punch of finely grated lemon zest. It is drizzled lightly atop the flaked tuna salad.
The tuna tacos below take a cue from popular Baja fish tacos. The tuna sits atop a creamy fresh chopped cilantro and chile dressing and is then crowned with shredded green cabbage and salsa.
A few other fresh ideas for dressing up out-of-the-ordinary tuna salads:
- Tomatoes are Treasure Troves: Spoon a small amount of store-bought or homemade French salad dressing in the bottom of medium to large raw tomatoes that have been hollowed out. Top with finely chopped celery and walnuts, dried blueberries or dried cranberries and canned tuna that has been flaked.
- Multigrain Tuna Mates: Puree canned mandarin oranges (preferably those canned with fruit juice and not syrup) and their juice and small amounts of ground cinnamon and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle orange mixture atop canned flaked tuna, chopped cashews and shredded arugula that are atop multigrain tortillas.
- Leaves You Can't Leave Alone: Place flaked canned tuna inside the crease of hearts of romaine. Top with shelled sunflower seeds, diced strawberries and chopped jicama or chopped raw cauliflower. Drizzle with store-bought Thai peanut dressing (often available in the ethnic aisle of major supermarkets).
Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. They take just 10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for creating homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!
Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since there are no right or wrong amounts. These are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations, so whatever you - or your kidlet helpers - choose to use can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests.
TUNA FISH TACOS
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon minced chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce
Salt, to taste
12 small corn tortillas (about 5 & 1/2 inches in diameter)
1 & 1/2 cups finely shredded green cabbage (about 3 ounces)
2 (6-ounce each) cans tuna in water, drained, excess moisture removed and broken into flakes
About 1 & 1/2 cups store-bought or homemade salsa
Yields 12 tacos.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
To prepare dressing:
In a small bowl, stir together sour cream, mayonnaise, cilantro, chipotle pepper and salt.
There will be about 1 cup dressing.
To prepare tacos:
Divide tortillas into two batches and wrap each in foil. Place in oven and heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until warm.
Carefully place warm tortillas on a work surface.
Smear each with about 1 & 1/2 tablespoons dressing and top with about 2 tablespoons cabbage.
Add about 2 tablespoons tuna, and about 2 tablespoons salsa.
Serve open-face for diners to roll themselves. Serve immediately.
-"200 Best Canned Fish & Seafood Recipes."
ITALIAN TUNA SALAD DRESSING
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher or regular salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Yields 2 servings.
In a small bowl, add olive oil, lemon zest and juice and basil, and combine well.
Season with salt and pepper.
Good drizzled on top of drained, flaked canned tuna fish that is atop mixed greens.
-Adapted from FoodNetwork.com
QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: Teaching your kids to cook can take all kinds of fun paths. If your kidlet's pal's birthday is coming up, for instance, consider having him or her find out what are the friend's favorite baked items, such as cookies, cakes, pies or brownies, flavors, icings and toppings, such as cookie crumbs or fresh strawberries. Then have your child research online, in cookbooks or by interviewing you or other relatives, recipes that might fit the bill and then, with your supervision, bake a custom birthday treat for the friend. Along the way, you could give helpful information about possible whole-grain or sugar-free ingredients as well.
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.