Into every family or dinner, a little bit of finickiness must fall. Gentle Readers, the Practical Cook has been gifted with some talented eaters for children, but fish is a showstopper for one member. Sunday night tends to be fish night, and the fish-hater took one look, curled her lip, and said, “is that salmon?” No, it’s tuna, and I’m not going to be able to sell the tuna casserole, am I? Drat.
Enter inspiration and hot weather. It was hot yesterday, 70 degrees or so in March. Not really casserole weather. The Practical Cook loves a good dinner salad, and thought about a riff on Niçoise Salad. But that can be a bit piquant for young palates, and there were some ingredients in the fridge that were in need of a home. Here’s the result.
The Great Tuna Salad Experiment Recipe
No Mayo, no cans involved. Serves a family of 4 with two young eaters. If you have big eaters, double the recipe.
.75 to 1 lb tuna medallions (they are much cheaper, and you’re going to slice them anyway)
healthy dose of mixed salad greens
1 or 2 avocados cut into small dice
1 sweet yellow pepper, sliced thin
2 cups diced pickled (or plain cooked) beets
something crunchy for sprinkling on top, options include toasted sliced almonds, chow mein noodles, seeds, fried onions
Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt
juice of 1 clementine (feel free to sub another citrus)
zest of 1 clementine
1. Wash tuna, pat dry, sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a medium frying pan, heat a dash of oil (I used peanut) over medium-high heat. Sear tuna on both sides, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Turn off heat, cover with a lid, and let residual heat finish tuna to your desired temp. Keep a close eye on it. **The Practical Cook likes her tuna on the verge of swimming. For those who prefer it less rare, leave it on a bit longer.
Rare Pan-Seared Tuna Medallions
2. When tuna is cooked, slice it thinly against the grain.
3. Prepare the dressing by whisking olive oil, vinegar, and salt. Add the juice and zest and whisk again.
Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette
4. Compose salad. First the greens, then the peppers, then the avocado and beets, topping with tuna. Whisk the dressing and gently coat each salad. Complete with the crunchy topping (we used Trader Joe’s Fried Onions, leftover from the grean been casserole experiment).
The Great Tuna Salad Experiment
Note for picky eaters: Since I was feeding kids, I let them choose the amount of certain ingredients they wanted. None was not an option, but a little vs. a lot was. The youngest opted out of peppers, and the fish-hating eldest opted to not have much tuna. At first. Then she tasted it. And the tuna disappeared. Lots of crunchy onions were used in the making of these salads.
Supper was saved! For some inspiring salad ideas, hunt down a copy of the out-of print gem, Lettuce in Your Kitchen. The title alone makes it worthwhile.
That’s it for today. Coming up tomorrow, an inspiring story of Spring Cleaning from a long-time reader. Tune in to see how she tamed the freezer and put a plan in place to solve the inventory challenge.
Keep those questions and challenges coming: practicalcook at gmail dot com