Tuna salad: 1 bowl, 1 meal
You either love tuna or you can't stand it. I love it. My husband? Not so much. Consequently, you'll seldom see a tuna salad served as a meal at my house. Well, up until now.
All-In-One Tuna Salad came about when a conversation with a friend on a sunshiny day led to a strong desire for a tuna salad that my mom used to make.
The sun was beaming as I visited with a friend who had just prepared that tuna salad that often shows up at picnics and potlucks. French dressing, macaroni rings, tuna, chopped pickles -- you know the one. It was a sunshiny day. It was warm. It was time for me to try to recreate my mom's tuna salad.
For some reason, I never paid much attention when my mom would concoct my favorite summer salad. She'd use only one bowl for mixing the dressing and then tossing in the salad ingredients -- tuna with crunchy onions, chopped iceberg lettuce and drained peas from a can. My dad wasn't crazy about this salad, but my mom and I could eat the whole bowl by ourselves as we munched Ritz crackers on the side.
I don't know where my mom ever came up with the idea for this salad. After she died I never found this recipe in her collection. My mom's been gone for 14 years and I haven't had the salad in all that time.
In her big yellow mixing bowl, she'd stir up some Miracle Whip with vinegar and a little sugar. I replaced the Miracle Whip with olive oil mayonnaise, my new favorite. I pulled a bottle of champagne vinegar from the several varieties in my pantry. It's much milder than regular white vinegar. You can use any kind you have on hand. My mom always used regular white vinegar.
I made a few more changes that would make the salad a little prettier without changing the flavors that I remember. Red onion rather than yellow, frozen peas rather than canned, and a little fresh dill sprinkled throughout the salad were minor alterations.
Although I rarely buy iceberg lettuce, most often choosing romaine for its offering of more vitamins and nutrients, this time I just had to go with the same lettuce Mom used.
A couple of hours before serving time, I mixed all the salad ingredients together except the lettuce and stored it in the refrigerator. I put the salad plates in the freezer so they'd be cold and frosty when they held the All-In-One Tuna Salad.
When it was time to eat, I gently tossed in the chopped lettuce and arranged the salad on the frosted plates. I placed little triangles of toasted whole grain bread beside the salad on each plate.
My husband did not look overly excited about the meal placed before him. But, guess what? He liked it. Only a few lonely little green peas remained on his plate at the end of the meal.
As for me, I thought the salad tasted great, but not as good as Mom's.
If you love tuna, you'll love this salad. If you can't stand tuna, you might like this salad. All in all, All-In-One Tuna Salad makes a light and healthful meal on a warm, sunshiny day.
All-In-One Tuna Salad
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
1 cup small-diced celery
1 cup small-diced red onion
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 (6-ounce) cans solid pack white albacore tuna, drained
4 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
Mix mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and dill in a large bowl, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add celery, red onion, peas and tuna. Toss the ingredients to coat with mayonnaise mixture. Cover tightly and refrigerate until serving time. At serving time, add chopped lettuce to the salad ingredients in large bowl. Toss gently. Serve immediately. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Tips from the cook
--You can change the flavor of the dressing by experimenting with different varieties of vinegar. For a little less vinegary bite, try champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar. Or how about a more fruity vinegar such as raspberry? One stop at the vinegar section in the grocery store will give you many options to explore.
--Fresh feathery dill leaves give the best flavor in this salad, but if you must use dried dill be sure to give it a pinch as you sprinkle it into the salad. This will release some of the flavorful oils from the dried leaves. A good rule of thumb to use when replacing fresh herbs with dried is 1 teaspoon of dried herbs for each tablespoon of fresh herbs.
--If you like more dressing on your salad, just double the amounts of mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar.