Monthly Archives: May 2010

Star Tuna Salad

I’ve been at war with tuna salad lately. After being thoroughly disgusted with a local sandwich shops refusal to toast the bread for my tuna salad sandwich, I told Jersey Mike exactly where to stick what, and came home and set to work on perfecting the simple art of Tuna Salad. It seems silly to put so much energy into something that is so simple, but I wanted the ultimate tuna salad. I wanted a tuna salad that would reduce your grandmother to tears of gastronomic joy. After the third preparation of merely palatable salad, I realized I forgot to ask the most important question. What is tuna Salad? Mayo, Celery, and Tuna right? Suddenly my mind went blank. There’s nothing to deconstruct here, nothing to pick apart and build differently. So I threw it all out, the tuna salads that I had made, my pre-conceived notions of what it should be, and the memories of what I had eaten in the past. Strictly speaking, tuna salad has only been a flavorless, drab means of conveyance for protein intake. Well, not anymore.

First of all, I would like to meet the person who decided that tuna salad and mayonnaise are permanently conjoined so I can punch them in the stomach. Every deli in town (including the one I work for) uses mayo in their tuna salad. Why? Mayo is nasty, it’s heavy and slimy and in just one cup you have seventy one percent of your RDI of Sodium and a whopping 118 percent of your RDI of fat. Now obviously you don’t eat a whole cup of mayo each time you chow down on a tuna salad, but why bother with the mayo at all? Hold the 796 Calories (692 of which are from fat) and opt for a more flavorful and healthier alternative. Much better flavor can be had by leaving out the mayo and substituting it with a simple balsamic reduction, a favorite salad dressing, or just straight up olive oil. Second, Celery is for making stock and soup, not for eating. Sure, it’s low calorie, and has Vitamins A, C, and B6, and its good fiber, but it’s also disgusting. That’s a total trump right there. Eating healthy must taste good, and there is nothing about celery that stimulates my palate.

Armed with this analysis, and a healthy dose of courage (booze) me and my best friend and culinary confidant Chasity set out to create the perfect Tuna Salad last week. I don’t keep mayonnaise in the house so you won’t find any of it in this recipe, instead there’s a tangy balsamic reduction, and star shaped pastina. We eschewed celery for fresh spinach and threw in some creamy Havarti cheese. Gone is the sensation of eating a mayonnaise sandwich. Hello tuna salad bliss.

Assemble the following:

  • 6 Oz. Tuna
  • 3 Tbsp Star Shaped Pastina, cooked and drained
  • 1 Cup Fresh Spinach, finely chopped
  • 1 Clove Garlic Finely Minced
  • 1/4 Cup Havarti Cheese
  • Sliced Pepper Jack Cheese
  • Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • English Muffins
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Do this with it:

Make a simple Balsamic Reduction.

  • Heat olive oil in heavy skillet over medium heat.
  • Saute garlic until golden brown.
  • De-glaze pan with Balsamic vinegar and reduce.

Now, put it all together.

  • Combine Tuna, cooled Pastina, Spinach, and Havarti in mixing bowl with Balsamic Reduction.
  • Grill English muffins and melt Pepper Jack Cheese on them.
  • Top with Tuna Salad, and a few fresh spinach leaves.
  • Enjoy!

Notes and Abstract:

  • Pastina is one of those pastas that cook in the blink of an eye, by virtue of its size (it’s tiny). It’s also difficult to drain, so set a coffee filter in your colander so you don’t end up throwing half of it down the drain.
  • I used canned tuna for this, obviously fresh would be better. If you can tell me where to get fresh tuna at 1 AM on a week day in the Sand Hills of NC, please feel free to do so.
  • Don’t like tuna? Substitute chicken for the tuna. I won’t eat it but who cares?! There are lots of things I won’t eat.
  • Yes, I did write 700 words about tuna salad. I’m an over thinker. That’s why it tastes so good.

Who is really to blame for the Deepwater Horizon Disaster?

So we’re five weeks into this disaster, and things are still looking grim for the Gulf. A large portion of our food supply has been tainted, and the economic repercussions on the Gulf States are downright disastrous. We’ll never know how many organisms in the Gulf met their maker as a result of this, and it will be at least a decade before the waters recover. This post has nothing to do with food. It’s more about my general disgust at the American Public for pointing their bony fingers and shouting “FAULT!”  at every corporate or government scapegoat they can focus on through their rage. Don’t get me wrong: I’m mad that Deepwater Horizon sank. I’m outraged that there was nothing that could be done to stop the massive oil spill. That’s right I said nothing could be done, and I mean that. And every human being on this planet bears the blame for this disaster. Every single one of us.

Deep Water drilling for oil is a practice that is still in its infancy.  Not all that long ago it was a theory that could only be developed on computer models and small-scale simulations, of which I’m sure there were many and that they were very thorough. I have no idea how much money an oil rig costs to develop, manufacture and deploy. Astronomical I’m sure. The very idea of doing anything at more than 1000 feet under water is completely insane if you ask me. For a while it looked like the majority of people shared similar beliefs about deep water drilling. The demand for oil was not great enough to risk the lives, the money, and the threat to Nature that are inherent to the practice of drilling for oil on the sea bed. Then something happened, everything changed and suddenly the astronomical expense, and danger was worth it.  Starving for cheap oil, people hastily started drilling for oil in an environment that we know less about than the Moon.

Do this: Go to your cupboards and pantries. Open your refrigerator. Look around the room you’re sitting in. Look at the housing on your monitor, and the keys on your keyboard. How much plastic do you see? Look out the window at your driveway. How many gallons of gasoline, quarts of oil and plastic parts do you see? Have you ever had a paraffin manicure or pedicure? (If not get one!! They are amazing!) Something called Petroleum coke is used in the manufacture of electronics.  Freshly re-paved asphalt highways sure are nice aren’t they? Go outside and look at your roof. See any tar?

Now go look in a mirror. Squint through your anger. Point your finger at yourself.

The Deepwater Horizon disaster and British Petroleum would not exist if it weren’t for the fact that I need plastic to wrap my food in, and I need gasoline to operate what has become my exclusive means of conveyance. So people please, for your own well-being consider your own individual part in this disaster. You and I are responsible for the lives of those eleven people who died. Every drop of oil that has spewed from that well is my fault just as much as it is yours. I have essentially bankrupted countless fishermen. Want to know a way to obliterate the Gulf-State Tourism Industry? Ask me. I killed thousands of sea creatures, and destroyed untold miles of coastline habitats.

Stop blaming the oil companies. Stop blaming the White House (only for this though, there’s plenty more blame to slather on to our current administration). Stop blaming God. Blame Me, blame your kids, blame your parents, blame your neighbors, blame yourself. When we’re over it, we have a long row to hoe ahead. We’ve heard the phrase “…reduce our dependence on oil…” so many times. Now all of us, my fellow humans have pages and pages of quantifiable reasons to quit saying it and actually start doing it.