Finding Beauty in a Tin Can
So I kinda lied to you. I reported back in July 2008 that I had recreated a tuna fish salad and enjoyed it. Well, that was the lie. I do not like tuna from the can. I cringe at every bite. I pretend that mustard is to tuna fish as sugar is to medicine. But even Mary Poppins knows the truth.
I did however, figure out a new way to prepare this cheap, pantry staple. And when I say “new” I mean new to my apartment. I guess there’s something called a tuna casserole. I’ve never had one. Never. Gross. I mean, velvetta, cream of celery soup and mayo? No.
But I knew somewhere behind the American–style goop there was something to be said for the chunked fish paired with cream and noodles. Well, I found a version that I can say is not tacky and really tasty. It may even be something you could whip up without a grocery store trip. It’s kind of cheating using prepared items, but because I was so enamored with the results, I find it worthy to share. Click to continue.
Tuna, Spinach and Cannellini Alfredo Fettuccine
Fuck a cutting board for this easy weeknight meal. Grate (use a zester, I like it better than a press) 2 cloves of garlic directly on to hot oil filled skillet. After it starts to cook stir in one can of drained tuna fish, about a tablespoon of herbes de provence, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Add in a few impressive globs of jarred alfredo sauce (I know and I’m sorry), let that heat through and then add in cooked whole wheat fettuccine noodles. Thin the sauce out with a scant tablespoon of water. Throw in half a can of cannellini beans (drained, rinsed) and some defrosted, wilted spinach. Check for taste, possibly add more sauce or water, probably more black pepper and red pepper flakes will be needed, as the store-bought sauce is fairly bland. Serve with a bit more pepper on top.
Cannelini? i thought that was gonna be a pine nut! I was almost interested in tunafish.
Canned tuna is a pantry staple in my house — I do love some wasabi tuna salad, and here in hurricane country, it’s reassuring to know that I’ve got a stash of shelf-stable protein. I grew up eating water-packed tuna, but now that I’m in charge of buying the groceries, I’ll only buy tuna packed in oil. (I’m talking about ordinary tuna in vegetable oil, not the fancy Italian tuna packed in olive oil.) It makes a huge difference in taste. The tuna comes out of the can tasting like fish, not metal.
Sure, water-packed tuna might be a bit lower in fat, but c’mon. You’re going to drain off the liquid and then mix the tuna with mayonnaise or creamy something-or-other. We’re not talking about heath food here!
Tuna Noodle casserole was a staple in my house growing up and I quite liked it, but your ‘grown-up’ take sounds more appetizing. My mom used cream of mushroom soup which is ok’ed by me because I heart mushrooms. A twist on this recipe could be to use salmon and dill in place of tuna and beans, and a similarly heavy handed dose of pepper.