Keep plenty of this healthful protein source in your motorhome pantry.
By Janet Groene, F47166
Few foods are more versatile for cooking on the go than tuna. Carry it fresh, frozen, or in cans or pouches. Serve it hot or cold, fancy or plain. Make a simple meal from a can of tuna and a pile of crackers. Turn tuna into sandwiches, salads, appetizers, and that essential comfort food, tuna-noodle casserole. Here are ways to put more tuna in your travel life.
Keep a package of cooked, deveined shrimp in your freezer to put a finishing touch on these appetizers.
24 3-inch wonton wrappers
Butter-flavored nonstick spray
Half an 8-ounce brick of cream cheese
2 or 3 scallions
1 6-ounce can chunk-style tuna, drained
24 medium-size cooked, deveined shrimp
Heat the oven to 375 degrees and coat cupcake pans with the nonstick spray. Lightly spray both sides of the wonton wrappers and press them into the cupcake holes to form a cup. Bake the shells for six to eight minutes or until they are brown and crisp around the edges. Let cool; remove from the pans; and repeat until you have 24 crisp wonton cups. Let the cream cheese come to room temperature. Finely chop the white and light green parts of the scallions and mix into the cream cheese along with the tuna to make a creamy filling. Put a teaspoon of the tuna filling in each wonton cup, top with a shrimp, and serve. The wontons can be baked hours ahead of time, but don’t add the filling until just before serving.
Rich Miller’s Tuna-Filled Tomato
Thanks to FMCA member Rich Miller for this healthful and tangy recipe. Complete the meal with a cup of soup, hot corn muffins, or crunchy tortilla chips and juicy tangerines for dessert.
2 to 3 9-ounce cans white tuna in spring water, drained
½ cup green onions, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
½ can yellow corn, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup picante sauce
¼ cup nonfat sour cream
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 medium tomatoes, halved
Combine the tuna, onions, and celery in a bowl. Mix well. Then add the rest of the ingredients, except the tomatoes, and mix well again. Hollow out the halved tomatoes and fill with the tuna mixture. “I like to sprinkle a bit of finely diced cilantro on top for the Southwestern flavor,” Mr. Miller noted, “but if that isn’t to your taste, anything leafy will do.”
Everyday Tuna And Red Rice Salad
This recipe is from a must-have new book, The Complete Whole Grains Cookbook, by Judith Finlayson (see below). It turns a 6-ounce can of albacore tuna into a nutritious, fiber-rich, main dish salad for four. The author makes it with Bhutanese red or Kalijira brown rice, but you can substitute any whole-grain red or brown rice. To adapt to cooking on the go I’ve simplified some of her ingredients and instructions. For the green beans, I drained an 8-ounce can of kitchen-sliced green beans.
3/4 cup raw rice
1 6-ounce can albacore tuna, drained
1 cup cooked, sliced green beans (optional)
1/4 cup sliced, pitted black olives
4 green onions, white only, sliced
Half a red sweet pepper, seeded and diced
½ cup quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Lettuce leaves (optional)
1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
½ teaspoon minced garlic
Cook the rice according to package directions. Fluff with a fork and place on bare plates or on lettuce leaves. For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and salt until the salt dissolves, then add the pepper. Gradually stir in the olive oil, then the shallot and garlic. Combine the broken-up tuna and other ingredients (except parsley) and toss with the dressing. Spoon the tuna mixture over the rice and sprinkle with parsley.
Tuscan Tuna Two-Fer
The beauty of this big recipe is that it makes two casseroles of four servings each. Freeze it in large or small batches to suit your needs. “Salad” olives are stuffed olives in irregular and broken shapes and sizes. They’re economical for use in dishes where whole olives aren’t needed.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 10-ounce cans tuna in oil
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic from a jar
1 large onion, diced
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 20-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 14.5-ounce can chicken broth
3 cups water
2 ½ cups long-grain rice
1 10-ounce package green peas, thawed
1 cup salad olives, well drained
In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the olive oil and the oil drained from the tuna. Stir-fry the peppers, garlic, and onion until they are limp. Stir in the tuna, paprika, tomatoes, broth, and water. Bring to a boil; stir in the rice; cover; reduce heat; and cook for approximately 20 minutes or until the rice is tender. Stir in the peas and olives. Serve hot or spoon into individual casseroles; cool; and then wrap and freeze.
Tubby Tuna Burritos
Purchase dry rice mix, not ready-to-serve rice pouches. Chicken-flavored rice goes well here or use Spanish rice, reducing the amount of chili powder to taste.
1 6-ounce package creamy rice mix
1/3 cup salsa
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 6-ounce can tuna in water, drained
1 15- to 19-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
4 to 5 burrito-size tortillas, warmed
Prepare the rice mix according to package directions and stir in the salsa, chili powder, tuna, and black beans. Put a cup of the rice mixture in each tortilla; roll burrito style; and serve at once with more salsa.
Tuna Bulgur Bites
This is a two-step meal, so plan ahead. It’s handy to have a “brick” of this ready-to-fry main dish in the refrigerator.
4 cups water
2 cups bulgur
1 teaspoon salt
2 cans solid-pack tuna in water*
1 tablespoon dried parsley
Vegetable oil for frying
Stir together the bulgur, salt, and water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat; cover; and cook for 10 to 12 minutes until the bulgur is tender. Stir in the tuna and parsley and spread evenly in a greased 8-inch-by-8-inch pan. (Pack down with the back of a wet spoon). Chill overnight. Turn out the bulgur on a cutting board and cut into nine squares. Spread a shallow layer of flour on a plate and dip the bulgur squares into it to coat lightly on both sides, then fry in a nonstick skillet in a shallow layer of hot oil. Serve the hot, crusty squares with coleslaw, a colorful vegetable medley, and lemon pudding squares for dessert. This recipe makes nine portions.
* Water drained from the tuna can be used as part of the water measurement.
Use some olive oil in any marinade for fresh tuna. Even though it’s an oily fish, additional oil brings out the taste and texture.
Albacore tuna is said to have higher mercury concentrations than regular tuna. For information about the risks of mercury in fish and shellfish, call the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s toll-free food information line at (888) 723-3366, or visit the FDA’s Food Safety Web site, www.cfsan.fda.gov/seafood1.html.
Fresh tuna has the meatiest texture, and the fresher the tuna, the less it will taste fishy. Pouch packs and solid-pack canned tuna are the next meatiest. Chunk-style tuna is the flakiest and cheapest, a good choice for chowder, creamed tuna, or tuna salad.
Add broccoli florets during the last few minutes when cooking spaghetti. Drain the pasta and gently stir chunks of tuna into it along with a jar of Alfredo sauce.
Stir chunks of solid-pack tuna gently into risotto during the last few minutes of cooking. Add a handful of thawed peas for color.
In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, melt a pat of butter with a tablespoon of olive oil and add a layer of thinly sliced potatoes and a layer of thinly sliced onions. Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender. Dot the top of the potatoes and onions with chunks of tuna; sprinkle with grated cheese; and cover over low heat just until the cheese melts. Slide out of the skillet and cut into wedges.
Each serving of festive, filling Nicoise salad calls for a whole can of tuna, drained and turned out on the plate in one piece. Cold potatoes, whole green beans, tomatoes, and a drizzling of vinaigrette complete the picture, composed prettily on each plate. Try it for a cold supper on a hot summer night.
Grandma Jennie’s Date And Nut Bread
This recipe is from a new book, Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins and More (see below). It’s ideal for the road because it can be baked in tin cans, which protect the bread in the refrigerator or freezer.
1 pound pitted dates, cut in ½-inch pieces
2 cups boiling water
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups flour, sifted, spooned in, and leveled off
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon grated navel orange zest
3/4 cup sugar
½ cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups walnuts, cut in ½-inch pieces
Position the rack on the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Generously butter four 19-ounce tin cans and line the bottoms with buttered parchment. Cover the dates with boiling water and set aside. In a large bowl whisk the baking soda, flour, salt, and allspice and set aside. Beat the butter with the orange zest until light, gradually adding the granulated sugar 2 tablespoons at a time. This should take two minutes. Add the brown sugar in the same manner, which should take another two minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another minute. Add the eggs and vanilla extract; then, beat in the flour mixture in four batches, alternating with the dates. Fold in the walnuts. Fill each can with 1½ cups of batter and tap firmly on the counter to level each. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes. The bread is done when it is firm to the touch, shrinks slightly away from the sides of the cans, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool on racks for 20 minutes; gently remove it from the tins; and cool completely. For freezing, return the cooled breads to the tins and wrap each securely.
Books for cooks
Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More by James Beard Award-winner Carole Walter ($35, Clarkson Potter) promises a lifetime of great baking at home and in the coach. The photographs alone are worth the price of this hardback, which is also justified by the sturdy binding and protective book jacket. The author provides master recipes that can be used in many variations as you fill your freezer for future trips. Buy a copy for the house, one for the coach, and another for someone who deserves the gift of a lifetime.
The Complete Whole Grains Cookbook ($24.95, Robert Rose) offers 150 ways to use toothsome, tasty, healthful whole grains. They’re light to carry, they stow on the pantry shelf, and a little goes a long way. This sturdy paperback isn’t too heavy to pack in the coach, and many of its recipes also can be handily made at home to take on the road. Recipes are provided for grains alone and for grains with vegetables, meat, or seafood. For people on gluten-free diets, the book has plenty of ideas for using quinoa, sorghum flour, millet, and many other non-wheat grains.
Cooking comfort foods is a cinch when you use Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited ($35, Ten Speed Press). A handsome, hardbound book with a colorful jacket, the book is filled with family memories, old photos, and detailed advice about how to make knishes, kugels, tzimmes, kishka, and other favorites just like his grandmother made them. It takes Mr. Schwartz three pages to explain how to make chicken soup, but every word is worth reading. For the cook on the go, the book may seem ponderous, but for the price you get both a cookbook and a delightful armchair read.