Hauntingly Good Tuna Salad
When I received a review copy of At My Grandmother’s Knee by Faye Porter, I knew it would be perfect for the approaching summer weather. These lovely Southern dishes just beg to be served alongside a pitcher of iced tea on a porch on a hot, lazy afternoon. All of the recipes in the cookbook are contributed by lucky women who have treasured memories of learning to cook by their grandmother’s side. Included with each recipe is a short story about the grandmother who shared it with her family; very precious, and dare I say it, heartwarming. Even though I don’t have any personal recollections of Southern cookin’ with my grandma, I was able to live vicariously though the accessible recipes and vibrant, inviting photographs.
This book is great for kitchen novices; since the recipes have been handed down through families, most of them have fairly simple instructions and small lists of easy-to-find ingredients (rest assured, butter and bacon make the cut). Not that a more adventurous cook couldn’t find something to try – if you’re in the mood to jar your own pickles or make ketchup from scratch, Grandmother’s Knee has got you covered. It’s always nice to get back to basics, though, and in the summer nothing pleases me more than classic picnic fare. Obviously I was in heaven when I beheld the bevy of mayonnaise-friendly salad recipes to choose from!
I found the winner recipe when I flipped to Mamaw’s Tuna Salad. Why? Well, first of all, I love tuna salad. And secondly, if there is one thing that fascinates me more than food, it is GHOSTS, and this family anecdote drew me like a moth to a flame:
My Mamaw…was somewhat of a pioneer…she designed her own kitchen. That house is now a physician’s office and on a recent visit to her childhood home, my mom talked to a nurse who works there. The nurse said employees think the house is haunted — lights flicker and strange noises are heard. “It’s not haunted, but there is a ghost in there – it’s my mother, and she’s in the kitchen cooking,” my mother said with a giggle.
Spooky! I knew the spirit of Mamaw could not steer me wrong. And guess what, this tuna salad was delicious. Usually I like to open a can of albacore, throw in some mayo and spicy mustard, maybe curry powder and/or paprika if I’m feeling frisky, and call it a day. This tuna, though, brings all sorts of new flavors to the table. I don’t think I have ever purchased a jar of pimientos before embarking on this recipe journey. In my opinion, though, it’s the eggs and corn that really make this salad a treat.
Mamaw’s Tuna Salad
2 cans (6oz each) tuna
4 large eggs, hard-boiled and finely chopped
1 jar (4oz) pimientos
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 can (14.75oz) corn, drained
1/2c chopped red or green bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon McCormick Salad Supreme seasoning
Rinse and drain the tuna and flake into a medium bowl.
Add the eggs, pimientos and liquid, mayonnaise, celery, lemon pepper seasoning, black pepper, corn, bell pepper, and Salad Supreme seasoning. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving. If desired, serve on lettuce with crackers or cucumber or bell pepper strips.
…I did desire to serve it to myself on lettuce and some nice rosemary crackers. And then again for lunch at work the next day on a whole wheat wrap with more lettuce and red onion. I will never be able to go back to plain mayo + tuna again. RIP, boring lunches.