TUNA FISH – A 70s KITCHEN STAPLE & BEYOND

“I think we should become sandwich people!” I loudly proclaimed one evening.

My proclamation came with strange looks from the men in our house. Both my husband John and my 11-year-old step-son gave me the side-eye that is usually reserved for our backyard chickens. You know the look. When someone is measuring you up, not sure what is coming next.

Our pretty hens know that I love and adore them, but they are always cautious. That is probably sound advice for any farm animal (or husband).

“Sometimes I am just tired of cooking!” I continued.

I knew what they were thinking. I could see it in their eyes. It is not a bad thing either. After all, that is what Vango’s and The Vierling is for. We enjoy dining out (and I enjoy not having to do the dishes).

However, I am the resident cook. It is what I do. My husband John builds and creates endless projects for our homestead and I keep his energy up with delicious meals. We raise most of the food ourselves and this is our point of pride.

Yet, sandwiches are not typically on our meal rotation plan. Lukas is known to love a PB&J (especially when his step mom creates it with Nutella and raspberry jam) and I do not believe that grilled cheese technically counts (because there is cooking involved).

Though, tuna sandwiches sometimes make it into our meal plan. Yes, tuna is a pantry staple in our house. It is simple and has a lot of potential.

Growing up in the 70s I think cans of tuna fish were on my mom’s weekly shopping list. I bet if you are a child of the 70s your mom ate copious amounts of tuna, cottage cheese, and grapefruit. (Though, that’s also probably why my mom had such a beautiful figure). We ate lots of fruit, vegetables, and wholesome home-cooked meals. 

While our family consumed plenty of casseroles (in perfect 70s fashion) we did not eat tuna casserole (with potato chips – was that really a thing) like I have heard other people discuss?

The beach cooler that we hauled to Fortune Lake held many tuna fish sandwiches – on homemade bread with Miracle Whip and my mom’s dill pickles (Grandma Hilda’s recipe that you can find on my blog). Honestly, every time I bite into a tuna sandwich I can feel the sun on my face and smell pina colada suntan oil.

My mom also taught me to love a tuna fish salad. Not on bread, but on a bed of lettuce. She would add chopped bell pepper, onion, celery, a side of tomatoes, cucumbers, and a drizzle of Italian dressing. It was the perfect low-carb meal before we were even taught to fear carbs.

Just like my mom, I add tuna to my regular shopping list. However, the tuna I buy is a little different than the tinned tuna that my mom purchased. I buy the flavored packets of tuna (we are especially fond of the lemon – with or without dill – or the ranch). While John will eat a tuna sandwich (with dill or sweet pickles), Lukas prefers to eat it straight out of the packet. It makes a handy and protein rich addition to his cold lunch (some of the packets even come with a convenient little spoon) and we never go camping without several packs and a box of crackers. This was our go-to lunch this July when we adventured in the wilds of Alaska.

However, I do like to recreate my mom’s tuna salad. I have been thinking that this will be a go-to lunch as we begin the new school year. It will be a low-carb and high protein offering to help push me through the “new normal” of being a high school teacher. Plus, it will help me take advantage of the fresh produce that we still have growing in our summer garden.

TUNA SALAD 

-Two cans of tuna or two packets

-1/4 cup of chopped celery

-1/4 cup of chopped onion

-1/4 cup of chopped bell pepper

-1/4 cup of chopped dill pickles

-4 Tablespoon of mayonnaise

-1 mashed avocado

-¼ cup of fresh chopped dill (a couple teaspoons of dried). You can also use fresh dill or basil

-Juice and zest of one lemon (a couple Tablespoons of concentrated lemon juice if you do not have fresh)

-Salt and pepper to taste

-Drizzle of Italian dressing (or a simple vinegar and oil)

While this tuna salad makes a phenomenal sandwich filler (if you are a sandwich person). I especially enjoy it in a pita pocket, on a bed of greens or stuffed into a tomato or hollowed out cucumber rounds. I also like to use it as a “dip” for cucumber slices. I have even been known to mix in some wafer thin slices of zucchini.

Since I still have beans in my garden, I blanched up some beans for the bed and added baby spinach and kale, tomatoes, and cucumber slices.

I hope you add this salad to your meal rotation. September can be known to be warm and humid. This recipe will help fill you up without having to turn on the stove or oven.

I hope your September is happy, healthy, and productive. The approaching cold and flu season will definitely have us all on our toes, so make sure you are one step ahead of the curve and eat your vegetables!

It wouldn’t be a blog post without a furbaby photo bomb. This is our King Louie streaking past.

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