January 27, 2014
Italian-style Tuna Salad ♥ Canned never tasted so good!
Tuna salad gets a bad rap. We either love it, tolerate it or won't go near it with a can opener.
You will almost always see it on a plate in a diner listed on the menu as the triple salad platter. Choice of egg, tuna and if you're lucky, chicken. Comes with potato and coleslaw or macaroni.
My first baptism into the Jersey diner scene was on Friday nights after all the bars closed. Wasn't anyone I knew that no matter which drinking holes they patronized, we always ended up at the diner for food. It's a rite of passage for every teenager and yes, we could drink back then at the ripe old age of 18, so there were many years of diner diving (as we called it). The food of choice for me was always an Open-faced Chicken Salad on a Toasted Bagel with Sliced Onions and American Cheese. At 4am there was no way two over easy's were gonna stare up at me.
It wasn't until I got my first real job, that diner's became a great place to eat lunch. The service was fast, the food was pretty good & filling, and the prices were very budget friendly.
My mom was the tuna salad maven in the family and every once in a blue moon I would ask her to make one for me while she was making hers. She ate tuna because she liked it and the only tuna available back then was Charlie packed in oil. No one knew about those healthy Omegas.
Fast forward to the 90's when the food police decided that anything packed in oil was "bad" for you, so water packed tuna was 'the man of the decade'. It was then that I stopped eating tuna all together. Tasted like cardboard and no amount of mayonnaise would disguise that.
Yes, there is a point. Fast forward to the 80's and the discovery of a small Italian deli in the basement of the office building where I worked. They only served breakfast and lunch sandwiches and the occasional soup in the winter. With all the business that walked in and out of that closet deli, it was inevitable I would end up with someone else's sandwich and if it wasn't someone in my office, and no one would trade, I was stuck.
Lucky for me, they never made a bad sandwich and the first time I got tuna instead of chicken, I was about to toss it when I realized I was out of luck and money.
I must have been really hungry because it turned out to be the best tuna salad I had eaten....ever! What kind of tuna could taste that good? I needed to know, so I volunteered to retrieve the next lunch order. That was when I found out the secret and the rest is, as they say, history.
To this day, I have been making my salad this way. The fact that I could buy Italian canned tuna down the street in King's Supermarket made it easy for me to get my fix of that wonderful mix of ingredients that made the best tuna salad.
The test on how good that recipe really is, came yesterday when all I had was two cans of the water packed Charlie brand, which was earmarked for a tuna noodle casserole The Nudge wants to learn how to make (but that's another post).
The Nudge wasn't home, so who was gonna tell him.
While I will probably never run out of Italian canned tuna again, Charlie did OK. It was surprisingly good. Really.
OK, I ate the whole darn thing myself!!
So, if you like a water packed tuna salad, you will love this one. It does contain some mayonnaise because for me, it's not worthy of making an appearance as a platter salad without some mayonnaise and if you wanted too, you could even make your own and I would just have to ask you "what time should I drive by, to pick up the lunch order?"
Italian Tuna Salad
makes enough for two sandwiches
* 1 can your favorite tuna, drained and flaked
* 2 tablespoons your favorite mayonnaise
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 3 sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil and herbs, finely diced
* 1 teaspoon of sun-dried tomato oil
* 1 tablespoon minced shallot, red onion or scallions
* 1 teaspoon sriracha, but any hot sauce would do
* 1 small garlic clove, minced
* salt & pepper to taste
Mix everything together and enjoy!