Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Progress on the cookbook has been almost non-existent these past weeks. But Chris is back at work today, and Gabe is back at daycare, so for the next two weeks, it's just Kaylee and me and free time!

I tried making tuna burgers for the first time. My expectations were low. I assumed the results would be stinky, crumbly, and taste overwhelmingly of canned fish. I was wrong on all points, and can't wait to make this a regular meal at our house!

I still need to refine the two tuna-noodle pasta dishes below. . .


Canned tuna is an excellent source of protein, selenium, tryptophan, vitamins B1, B3, and B6, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, and, especially, omega 3 fatty acids.

Drain canned tuna by opening the can, and then using the lid of the can to squeeze out the water or oil. Canned tuna is cooked and ready to eat as-is.

Pregnant women should not eat “albacore” tuna, because this type of tuna tends to be high in mercury.

Tuna Salad (also Egg Salad, Chicken Salad) (quick meal)
Serves two.

Tuna salad makes a great sandwich filler or salad topper. Tuna salad is made by mixing canned tuna with minced vegetables and mayonnaise. Chopped hard-boiled egg or chopped cooked chicken can be used in place of the tuna to make egg salad or chicken salad.

1 small can of tuna
1 cup or so of any combination of the following: chopped celery, onion, apple, sweet or dill pickle, cucumber, walnuts, pecans.
About ½ cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
Pepper to taste
(optional) other herbs or spices, such as powdered garlic, dill, parsley, cayenne pepper, or curry powder.

Drain the tuna by squeezing it with the lid of the can. Then mix in the vegetables, and spoon in mayonnaise to taste. Season with pepper and optional herbs or spices. Serve over lettuce or on toast.

Creamy Tuna Pasta (quick meal)

This is a quick version of Tuna Noodle Casserole that uses whole ingredients instead of canned “ cream of” sauces. Such canned sauces are low in nutrients and high in sugar, salt, oils, and other things that would be best left out of one‘s diet, such as MSG.

The dairy in this recipe helps to mask the fishy flavor of the tuna. Feeds three or four.

1 chopped onion
(optional) canned or fresh mushrooms
(optional) minced garlic
1 to 3 cans of tuna
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 ½ cup milk
1 to 3 cups vegetables, such as frozen peas, frozen or fresh carrots, broccoli, or spinach, etc.
(optional) 1 cup of grated cheddar, Swiss, or other cheese
(optional) dill,
Salt and pepper to taste
Egg noodles, or pasta, or rice

Start cooking the noodles or rice. In another pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter, and sauté the onions, optional garlic, and optional mushrooms for a few minutes. Add the remaining vegetables until they are cooked. Then put all of the vegetables aside in a bowl, and melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the pan. Sprinkle in the flour, stirring over the heat for another couple of minutes, and then add the milk and stir thoroughly with a whisk or fork. Bring the milk comes to a boil, then stir in the grated cheese to make a cheese sauce. Add the cooked vegetables and the drained tuna and add salt and pepper and optional dill to taste.

If you opt not to use cheese, try adding more tuna or more vegetables to fill out the meal.

Serve over egg noodles, pasta, or rice.

Tuna Noodle Casserole (cook in advance)

Cooking tuna noodle as a casserole may take too long to be convenient on a busy weeknight, but comes in handy if you have more cooking time and a large group of people to feed. It also makes sense for pot lucks, because it can be cooked a few hours in advance, kept warm in the oven on low heat, and then brought to the potluck in just one container.

Tuna Noodle Casserole is almost the same as Cheesy Tuna Pasta, except that it is baked. To make tuna noodle casserole without using canned “cream of” sauces, use the same ingredients as the “Creamy Tuna Pasta“ recipe, doubling or tripling as necessary. Egg noodles are traditional, rather than rice or pasta, but any of the above should work.

Start by cooking the noodles or rice. Chop the vegetables, but don’t cook them. Make the cheese sauce, and drain the tuna. Then, in a casserole dish, put a layer of noodles or rice, followed by a layer of veggies, a layer of tuna, and a layer of cheese sauce. Add more layers until the casserole dish is full, and top with more grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until the sauce bubbles.

Tuna Burgers, or Tuna Cakes (quick meal)

These tuna patties can be served on bread, like a hamburger, or as part of a salad or along with side dishes, as a fish cake. A tasty dip can be made for the latter by mixing equal parts of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard.

This makes two patties:

1 small can of tuna
½ cup bread crumbs
1 egg
½ cup chopped vegetables, such as onion, celery, or red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste (careful with the salt, as canned tuna tends to be salty)
(optional) other herbs, such as dill

Drain the tuna. Mix the ingredients thoroughly and form into two patties. Cook in a little oil - if the tuna is in oil rather than water, you can use a tablespoon of that to cook in - over medium heat for about five minutes on each side. Turn the patties carefully, as they are a bit fragile.

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