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September 2013

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Starving artists

Starving Artists in the Kitchen--Tuna Curry Salad



Tuna Curry Salad

Sometimes it seems as if there’s nothing in the house and you’re suddenly HUNGRY! You don’t have time to shop, but you want something quick, tasty, and inexpensive. Almost everyone keeps some canned tuna on hand, though; we do. Usually we get tuna canned in water or olive oil, and the light stuff. (The expensive, chunky-flaky tuna is lovely*, but if you’re just going to make it into tuna salad? Not a bit necessary.)

This is delicious, tucked into pita bread or a croissant, on home made bread, spread on Wasa, or in a pile on a green salad, our favorite way of serving it. I love the mix of veggies and fruit that give this recipe a special piquant taste, and the kiss of curry really makes it special.

I've recently learned that one of our best sources of Omega-3 fats is in green leafy vegetables--great! Omega-3 is brain food--your brain cells literally have to have it! And some researchers believe that it aids against inflammatory diseases and some cancers; I'm delighted that it's found naturally in fish and in leafy vegetable.

(Yes, you can use chicken instead of tuna. Hey, you could probably use tofu, but I try to avoid most soy products along with too much bread, etc!)

We use:

1 small can of tuna, drained

½ c. grated carrots (I get the organic ones* and grate my own, yum.)

½ c. chopped organic celery

½ c. finely chopped onion–sweet Vidalia onion is our favorite!

Keep mincing...this is too big! ;-)
 
(This is one place I sometimes substitute dried onion, though–I really like the flavor and crunch, and if the cupboard is bare? I always have dried onion on hand!)

½ c. raisins, currants* or sultanas* (currants are said to be tarter than regular raisins, sultanas are theoretically sweeter and less acid–but they’re both basically raisins)

1 t. to 1 Tablespoon minced garlic (how much do you like garlic? Does the person you plan to kiss like garlic too? Then go for it!)

½ to 3/4 C. mayonnaise–if you MUST use low-fat don’t blame me if it doesn’t taste as good! ;-) (It also has more chemical additives--to paraphrase Michael Pollan in his new book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, if your grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food--and you can't pronounce it--maybe you don't want to eat it!)

½ t. curry powder*--to start. OK, I’ll admit, I’m insane about curry powder. So sue me.

Grating of sea salt

(If you’ve got red, yellow, or green bell peppers, go ahead and add some, chopped...or some fire-roasted red pepper. Go wild. It’s pretty.)

Mix everything together and taste–add more curry powder. ;-)

(If I don’t have celery or onion in the house, it’s still good with just the baby carrots, raisins, and dried onion–staples, around here!)

For raisins/sultanas/currants info, check out http://www.ochef.com/676.htm

I couldn’t find my favorite curry powder, even online, but then it was a gift from my eldest godchild, and I have NO idea where she got it. It’s pretty chunky...

This looks like a good substitute--Bombay Foods India Select Imported Curry says theirs is “100% Natural non-irradiated. No artificial flavors, or preservatives. Curry Powder - Indian Curry Powder is our family's secret blend of spices which has been time tested over several generations to prepare mouth watering curry sauce.” OH yeah, I’d try that... Bombay Foods India Select Curry Powder, 6.25-Ounce Jars (Pack of 6)

* Yes, grocery store “organic” isn’t quite what we originally had in mind back in the 70s when we talked about organic produce. We meant grown without chemicals, locally, in a sustainable agriculture, etc. etc. When the USDA defined “organic” after a bloody fight in the last decade (ok, bloodless), the definition had broadened just a wee bit. The farmers can actually make something resembling a living now, going into conglomerates and shipping across state lines and so forth, but if we really want old-fashioned organic the way we used to think of it, we’re back to growing our own or finding a whole foods store or CSA. (Remember we talked about Community Sustainable Agriculture groups?  Google 'em!) Meanwhile I look for the organic label when that’s the best choice I have!

DO watch, though...some prepared "organic" products (canned goods, sauces, etc.) in the supermarket may still have more additives than you want.  I usually go for the fewest ingredients and those I recognize, or just buy fresh.

Wanna know more about what this means now? Here ya go, a tinyurl to the USDA regulations on organic certification! http://tinyurl.com/3zchns

A preview URL that lets you know the actual site address, if you prefer, is here: http://preview.tinyurl.com/3zchns

And more fascinating background on the certification process can be found in another of my favorite books, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, where our man Michael Pollan writes about the balancing act between making a living and the ideas of the organic farm we imagined–and came from–and what today’s “organic” has come to mean. Still, we choose it when we can...


Go easy on the albacore tuna, by the way, especially for women and small children. Concerns about mercury levels would suggest you should choose light tunas over the albacore, 3 to 1. (I calculated recommendations for albacore against my weight and discovered I should only eat 1 can of albacore a week, but could easily tolerate 3 times as much light. Assuming I’d want that much tuna, of course!)

Of course, tonight we had wild-caught Ahi tuna, so we’ll have to talk about that soon–it was wonderful!

-----------------

For the artists out there: This was a journal entry done on hot press Fabriano paper a couple of years ago...it's watercolor, with no previous pencil underdrawing.  I just got into it!

Comments

That sounds yummy.
Thanks, sweetie, it IS. Love the onion and raisins in it...with curry, of course! I am SO big on curry...
mmmmmmmmmmm....num! curry in nearly anything makes me smile!
J. would be glad to tell you that's true of me, as well! LOVES da curry powder!
clicky-clicky, and scroll down to "curry". penzey's rawks!

http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/c-SpicesAs_Herbs_and_Seasonings.html?id=ZcDnfyAa
My blacksmith friend swears by garam masala...sounds wonderful! Thanks for the link, girl!
Oh, I'm going to try and work raisins and carrots and curry into my next batch of tuna salad! That sounds just fantastic! And the drawing is just as yummy...
;-)
Thank you! You will LOVE this...
This sounds good! I'm so glad we're all still here after the scare about LJ maybe going poof.
I'm glad we're here too, but I am looking to do an R.S.S. feed to a second site, just to cover my bases!

And it IS good! :-)

(Anonymous)

This looks lovely, with all the vegies and curry. I might suggest an alternative to the tuna (some people might go "yuk"... but give it a try, if you like fish). Tuna are very high on the food chain - they are large predatory fish, and as such, it is far more sustainable for humans to eat lower on the food chain. Try sardines - they are way low on the food chain. I've recently switched from using tuna to using sardines, and am amazed at how much I like using them - they have a "strong" flavor, but most tuna recipes have lots of other flavorful stuff mixed in, and sardines marry quite nicely with such mixings. And you don't have to worry about the mercury problems. Of course, if you have some sort of fresh fish to use for this lovely salad... well, yum...
Consie
Thanks for the suggestion, Consie! I like sardines, but it hadn't occurred to me to use them in a salad like this. I've been reading can labels, and it's good to see that sardines and kippers both just have, well, sardines and kippers. Maybe water, maybe some salt, maybe olive oil or mustard, but pretty simple ingredients list. I like all the Omega-3s in fish, too...

(Anonymous)

Tuna sandwich

I'm glad that I just had lunch and not hungry! I am saving this recipe. It sounds wonderful.

Peggy

Re: Tuna sandwich

Let us know how you like it, Peggy!