Sometimes I think I'm at my most creative the week before vacation. It's one of the few times when I diligently take stock of everything that I have in the refrigerator and pantry, and think of ways to use it all before we leave. The rush is not to use the things before they wilt and die, but rather to use everything period. I like to leave the fridge nearly clear so that there is no risk of anything going to waste in our absence, and so that we can start fresh upon our return.
A few days ago, I was thumbing through the March issue of Real Simple magazine on the train home from work when I came across a nice looking tuna salad billed as the "brown-bag lunch of the month." The ingredients called for radishes, celery, parsley, and some seasonings; all ingredients which are usually rolling around my fridge begging to be used. I made a mental note to remember the combination of ingredients.
This morning on Day 6 of our thwarted vacation (we were supposed to have left for Puerto Rico last Wednesday but the snow had other plans), I woke up hungry. We are finally (God-willing) getting on the plane tonight, so the fridge is really down to the bare bones
"I'm going to make some food now," I said to Eugene as I rolled out of bed. Pulling out a few cans of tuna, a handful of radishes, and one huge bunch of parsley, I got to work. Though the original recipe only called for 1/4 cup of parsley, I, inspired by the wonderfully fresh and nutty tabbouleh salad we had at Ilili the other day, decided to finely mince the entire bunch and use it all (stems too!). I think parsley is all-too-often relegated to the role of garnish when it really is wonderful enough to stand alone. (Anyone who loves chimichurri as much as I do will likely agree!)
I chopped the radish into little matchsticks and diced a whole red onion. I used four 5oz cans of tuna that I rinsed with fresh water first (if you don't like the "fishy" smell of canned tuna, that's a great way to eliminate it before using in a recipe. I zested and juiced an entire lemon, drizzled in some olive oil, and topped it all off with a shower of freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt. I skipped celery because I didn't have any, but I did add a heaping teaspoon of dried oregano.
The finished salad is beautiful, with lots of green and gorgeous hints of red from the radish. I served it with toasted slices of whole wheat and pumpernickel bread and a little ramekin of mayonnaise on the side for spreading on the bread. I love the flavor of mayonnaise with my tuna, but I didn't want one of those heavy tuna salads we're all so accustomed to eating.
This salad keeps well overnight, so--just like Real Simple suggested--it's a great one to try if you're looking for a healthy lunch option the next day. My recipe below makes about two to four servings, depending on how much you usually eat. Eugene, left to his own devices, would probably eat the entire bowl himself. And then ask for more.
Speaking of lunch, I've recently become quite smitten with Elizabeth Bard's new book, Lunch in Paris (a love story! with recipes!). I devoured the book in two days and have been recommending it to everyone. I absolutely loved her writing and was actually sad when it ended. Those of you who loved Molly's A Homemade Life or Kim Sunee's Trail of Crumbs (another favorite!) should absolutely look out for it next time you're at the bookstore.
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Tuna, Parsley, and Radish Salad
Serves 2-4 (inspired by a recipe in Real Simple, March 2010)
Four 5-ounce cans of tuna, drained and rinsed
12 small radishes, julienned (about 1 cup)
1 small red onion, diced (about a 1/2 cup)
1 bunch of parsley, minced entirely (including stems)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
zest and juice of 1 whole lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise, Toasted whole wheat or pumpernickel bread, for serving
In a large bowl, combine the drained tuna, julienned radishes, diced red onion, minced parsley, oregano, lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil.
Toss to combine. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
Serve with toasted bread and mayonnaise on the side (mayonnaise can be spread on the bread or mixed into the salad by each individual if desired).
Can be refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to 24 hours.