This last week I went through the yearly transition of adjusting to back-to-school routines, a change that's always challenging. Even though there are things I love about being a teacher, there's nothing I love more than being home, puttering around the kitchen or garden. For one thing, going back to school means I have to start planning what to eat more than I do in the summer. I don't find it that difficult to plan healthy lunches to take to school, but it does take a lot more thought than standing in front of the fridge, thinking, "Hmmm, what should I eat?" This salad is an example of something I'd make ahead and take for lunch, and it will last well in the fridge for a day or two.
The idea of combining sun-dried tomatoes with the wonderful tuna packed in olive oil came from Valerie Phillips, the Food Editor of the Deseret Morning News. When Valerie wrote about this type of tuna, she featured my recipe for White Bean Salad with Tuna and Parsley, and the article had her recipe for a Tuna and Tomato Pasta Salad (after you click that link, scroll down to see her recipe.) I loved her idea of using sun-dried tomatoes with the tuna, and I've had her pasta salad recipe on my "must try" list for the longest time now. Meanwhile, here's my latest version of tuna salad. This one's for basil lovers, and next time I might add some pine nuts, but either way, this would be a delicious lunch.
Dice cucumbers into small pieces, salt, and let drain in a colander for about 30 minutes. If you don't have fresh garden cucumbers, you might want to scrape out the seeds and possibly peel the cucumbers.
Yes, I've seen all those cookbooks saying basil should never be chopped, but I chopped the basil as well as the parsley for this salad with a chef's knife. Measure the herbs after chopping, although the proportions can be adjusted to your taste or based on what you have on hand.
Tuna Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Parsley, and Basil
(Makes 2-4 servings, recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration for using sun-dried tomatoes with tunafrom Valerie Phillips)
2 cups finely chopped cucumbers
1 tsp. salt for draining cucumbers (I used kosher salt)
1 can tuna packed in olive oil (I like Tonno Genova tuna, which is relatively inexpensive)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup chopped fresh parsley (I prefer curly parsley for a salad like this, but either curly or flat parsley will work)
(optional: next time I might add 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts)
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
3 T good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 T fresh lemon juice
Wash cucumbers and chop into pieces between 1/4 - 1/2 inch square, then place in colander with salt and let drain for about 30 minutes. (You may need to peel cucumbers and scrape out the seeds if you don't have fresh garden cucumbers like I used.) Put tuna into separate colander over a bowl and let oil drain away while cucumbers drain. (Discard the oil from the tuna.)
While cucumbers drain, chop red onion and place in salad bowl. Rinse sun-dried tomatoes with hot water to remove some of the oil if desired, then chop into small pieces and add to onion. Wash basil, then parsley in salad spinner (or wash and dry with paper towel.) Chop herbs and add to onion-tomato mixture.
Blot cucumbers dry with paper towel (this also removes some of the salt) and add to mixture in bowl. Flake tuna slightly with a fork and gently stir into mixture. Add pine nuts if desired.
In small bowl, whisk olive oil into lemon juice until dressing is emulsified. Gently mix dressing into salad. (You may not want all the dressing, depending on how wet you like your salads.) Season to taste with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Serve at room temperature or chilled. The flavor of this actually blends together better after it's been in the refrigerator for a while, which makes it perfect to make ahead and take for your lunch.
South Beach Suggestions:
Salad like this is perfect for any phase of the South Beach Diet. Even though the tuna, dressing, tomatoes, and pine nuts all have oil, they all contain what South Beach considers to be "good fats." I would eat this on a day when I'm not having a lot of high-fat foods for other meals.
More Delicious Salads with Tuna:
(Recipes from other blogs may or may not be South Beach Diet friendly, check ingredients.)
White Bean Salad with Tuna and Parsley
Garbanzo and Tuna Salad with Parsley and Red Pepper
Tuna Stuffed Avocado Salad with Tomatoes, Cilantro, and Lime
Nicoise Salad Recipe from Simply Recipes
Herbed Balsamic Tuna Salad from Gluten-Free Bay
Herbed Tuna Salad with Feta and Pine Nuts from Pinch My Salt
New York Times Tuna Salad from Smitten Kitchen
Tuna and Relish Salad from Once Upon a Feast
Garbanzo Beans with Tuna from Exploring the Silver Spoon
Stinky Tuna and Egg Salad from Daily Special