Much Ado About Tuna
There is just something about tuna. It is perhaps the one pantry staple common to many kitchen larder cupboard around the world. It’s the one thing I always have in mine, even if I am not in the mood to eat it. Say what? Yes, tuna. It is cheap, healthy, quick and easy, which you know by now is my holy grail of cooking. I grew up on the beautiful tropical Caribbean island of Jamaica and one of the things we face with every year, is the threat of hurricanes. As a result of living with this constant threat for 6 months out of every year, Jamaican government agencies have for decades, developed public education campaigns to encourage the population to always buy extra canned and non-perishable items over time especially leading up to hurricane season, so that even if a terrible storm took us by surprise and electricity was lost for extensive periods, we would be able to eat.
7 GREAT RECIPES FOR CANNED TUNA
It is with that sort of pragmatism that I grew up, and especially so because my own mother has taken a well-stocked pantry as a serious testament of her prudent home economics. Her cupboards are never empty. In addition to Hurricane season. there was the barrel phenomenon that was popular in the 70s, 80s and even 90s, where Jamaicans who had moved to the USA, Canada and the UK would pack barrels of household items clothes, food, toys to send back home. In those barrels were many things that were too expensive to buy in bulk in the island- like canned tuna and canned salmon.
While tuna is not a traditional ingredient in Jamaica, migration and storms have made it more of a staple over the past few decades.
And if you know anything about how we approach food, we never take “precooked” on a label as gospel. We actually re-season and assemble our canned foods taking them from bland to incredibly moreish. We have a saying for that. We say we love to “tea we hand make fashion.” Which means that in hard times, we apply the manual dexterity of our forebears. We get creative.
And that is what some of these recipes will do with canned tuna. We are taking the very mundane canned tuna and transforming it into 7 great recipes for canned tuna that make you actually want to eat and look forward to eating canned tuna. This is not yet another tuna casserole dish- a recipe popular in the USA. Many off these recipes do not require any additional cooking at all so that makes this great for quick, simple, cheap meals while you work from home, are doing homeschooling, or just on lockdown during quarantine.
I thought I would put together a few dishes that are easy for everyone from kids to teenagers to kitchen novices and seasoned cooks with a mission to do the seemingly impossible: jazz up a can of tuna.
Tuna is also high in Omega 3 fatty acids so that it makes it a very heart healthy source of protein and Omega 3s help to keep moods stable and fend off mild to moderate depression so right now, as we are cooped up as chickens in our roosts, we need all the mood boosting benefits we can get.
Presentation is everything
The truth about gourmet food is not that it is any different from regular food, but that much care is made in its presentation. No chef worth his salt just splatters food into slush on a plate. Why? Because we eat first with our eyes. Martha knows that.
She uses a wide array of ingredients, many simple and inexpensive but presents them in a way that makes meals that look fit for kings and queens. That is the care that we ought to take with even the most humble ingredients, because it makes an invitation to yours for a meal a coveted affair.
We will start first with one tuna salad with three different presentations.
Fresh Parsley Tuna Salad
I came up with this recipe to find a way to put together all the flavours that went with tuna but also to ensure that neither you nor your guests will have a “fishy smelling” mouth after eating this salad. Parsley is a natural breath freshener and is the star ingredient here. It holds up very well to the strong flavour of the tuna. This salad is so good you can actually take it to work for lunch.
Here it is with a Low Carb Tortilla, Boston Lettuce and A Thick Slice of Tomato for lunch or breakfast on the go.
Topping cucumber slices is a great way to make this humble salad into a tasty canapé item or a healthy snack for children, teenagers and adults alike.
This Fresh Parsley Tuna Salad is also great as a dip for homemade pita chips (made by cutting Arabic bread into wedges and toasting with a little salt and olive oil) or a thinly sliced toasted small French Baguette.
Other Great Recipes for Canned Tuna
Spicy Tuna Fritters
Spicy Tuna Fritters – This is where a spring roll meets a fritter, somewhere in the realm of higher fibre. In other words, this is how you use leftovers to create a great fusion dish that everyone can enjoy and even add some nutrition to an otherwise empty calorie high carb dish. It is delicious enough to serve as a starter for a dinner party and still practical enough as an everyday meal. This is a spin off from Jamaican Salted Cod Fritters, or Stamp and Go. Traditionally, it is made with salted cod and lots of fresh spices but since we are singing arias to tuna, cod has no place here!
Tuna Salad, Two Ways (2 recipes) This post has two separate recipes for tuna salads that have become my superbly healthy fast food options and quicker to make that you can actually order takeaway. Though, if you have the means to do so, please order from restaurants to to help save the industry, which is severely affected by the worldwide shutdowns. Many restaurants are very small and family owned and as one who works in the the food and hospitality sector, I have literally seen my income dry up overnight.
This is yet a third variation of the two salads above, using the same three base ingredients but only with a change to the seasoning/dressing. This dressing is self stable and so a great one to have in these times.