Tuna, my quarantine go-to

 

Versatile tuna can play a leading role while we're making more meals at home. Bell peppers, red onion and olives are just three flavorful ingredients in this Mediterranean tuna salad. Customize it by substituting other favorite veggies.

Versatile tuna can play a leading role while we're making more meals at home. Bell peppers, red onion and olives are just three flavorful ingredients in this Mediterranean tuna salad. Customize it by substituting other favorite veggies. Photo by: stanly.ces.ncsu.edu/medinsteadofmeds.com

 

Tuna-carrot cakes with garlic lemon aioli take less than a half hour to prepare.

Tuna-carrot cakes with garlic lemon aioli take less than a half hour to prepare.
Photo by: familyfeatures.com

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

 

"Week 5," I wrote in Sunday's square on the hanging calendar in the hallway at home. Each Sunday square for the past few weeks bears a similar proclamation -- Week 1, Week 2, and so on -- marking the passage of time since this coronavirus began changing our daily routines. For many of us, a colossal change is that we're home. And as much as we love home, 24/7 home is almost more home than we bargained for. That kind of home means three meals to fix every day. By Week 5, it means blankly gazing into kitchen pantries and freezers, wondering how to avoid making the same thing ad nauseum. (And asking ourselves what to do with that can of beets we bought because it was the last lonely canned vegetable on the grocery shelf. Or, is that just me?)

 

Beets aside, I've come to realize that humble tuna has emerged as sort of a steady-Eddie in my quarantine cuisine. First and foremost, my husband and I really like tuna salad. Second, I stocked up on packets of tuna (so much easier than the cans, in my opinion). Third, without much effort, I can pretend I've done something special by adding chopped pecans, grapes or apples, or even a bit of Cajun seasoning. Or make a version with salt, pepper, dried minced onion flakes (or onion powder) and garlic powder. Or maybe next time add a splash of lemon juice to brighten things up. Versatile tuna can go so many different ways. A prominent brand of tuna packets even makes it easy for us, offering variations like Thai deli style tuna, hot buffalo style tuna and lemon dill flavored tuna.

 

If you're in a tuna rut at your 24/7 home, here are a couple of recipes that might wake things up. The first is a Mediterranean tuna salad full of veggies. Use it on sandwiches or on top of greens. Customize it with your favorite vegetables. The second recipe is a tuna-carrot cake with garlic lemon aioli. Both of these can vanquish same-ole, same-ole.

 

 

 

MEDITERRANEAN TUNA SALAD

 

Prep/total time: 15 minutes

 

Serves 5 (serving size 1 cup)

 

 

2 (5-ounce) cans of tuna packed in water or olive oil, drained and flaked

 

1/2 cup minced carrots (approximately 2 carrots)

 

1/2 cup minced celery (approximately 2 celery sticks)

 

1/2 cup minced yellow bell pepper (approximately 1 small bell pepper; substitute with orange, red or green bell pepper if preferred)

 

1/4 cup minced red onion (substitute with yellow or green onion if preferred)

 

1/4 cup minced olives (substitute with pickles if preferred)

 

1 tablespoon olive oil

 

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

 

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

 

Salt to taste (optional)

 

 

  • In a medium size bowl combine the carrots, celery, bell pepper, onion, olives, tuna and olive oil.

     

  • Season with black pepper, cayenne pepper and salt. Mix well. Serve as a sandwich on whole-grain bread or on top of salad greens.

     

    (Source: North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Stanly County Center, from medsinsteadofmeds.com)

     

     

    TUNA-CARROT CAKES WITH GARLIC LEMON AIOLI

     

    Prep time: 15 minutes

     

    Cook time: 5 minutes

     

    Servings: 4

     

     

    Garlic lemon aioli:

     

    3/4 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt

     

    1 tablespoon lemon juice or orange juice

     

    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

     

    1/8 teaspoon salt

     

     

    Tuna-carrot cakes:

     

    3/4 cup fine corn flake crumbs, divided

     

    1/3 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt

     

    1/3 cup shredded carrot

     

    2 tablespoons chopped green onion

     

    2 tablespoons dill pickle relish or finely chopped dill pickle

     

    1 can (12 ounces) tuna in water, drained and flaked

     

    2 tablespoons vegetable oil

     

    Chopped green onion (optional)

     

     

  • To make garlic lemon aioli: In small bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, garlic powder and salt. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

     

  • To make tuna-carrot cakes: In medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup corn flake crumbs, yogurt, carrot, onion and relish. Add tuna; mix well.

     

  • Place remaining corn flake crumbs on piece of wax paper. Shape tuna mixture into eight 3/4-inch thick patties. Lightly coat both sides of patties with crumbs.

     

  • In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook patties in hot oil 4-6 minutes, or until golden brown, turning once. Stir aioli. Spoon dollops on patties. Garnish with additional onion, if desired.

     

    (Source: Family Features-Marcia Stanley, MS, RDN, on behalf of Milk Means More. See more recipes at milkmeansmore.org.)

     

     

  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

     

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