Crostini al Tonno

38 Comments

Thanks to a friend who visited Lorenza de Medici’s Badia a Coltibuono in Italy many years ago, and cooked with the Madame, I learned about the Italian cuisine expert and bought a few of her cookbooks.

Lorenza de Medici isn’t Lidia Bastianich. If she visited the U.S., she didn’t go on the Today Show, on the Tonight Show, or participate as a judge on Chopped. (I have nothing against Lidia.) So although a highly respected author and teacher, she’s just not as well known in the U.S.

To quote from the book cover of the cookbook I’m using for today’s recipe, Lorenza’s Antipasti, published in 1998, “Lorenza and her Husband, Piero Stucchi-Prinetti, spend most of their time at their home, Badia a Coltibuono, an 11th Century monastery, estate, and winery in Tuscany.”

If I was her, I wouldn’t leave either. I’d just hang out, teach some cooking classes, test the grapes and olives, drink my wine, and play with dogs. I’m assuming she has dogs.

Oh, and as of the publication of this cookbook, she’d already published 20 books, and that was 19 years ago!

So instead of common bruschetta, tapenade, baked ricotta, and other popular crostini toppings, some of which are on this blog (all of them, actually), I really wanted to make these toasts with tuna. Recipe by Lorenza de Medici. I just like saying her name! Not to be confused with Lorenzo de Medici.

Crostini al Tonno

12 slices Italian country-style bread, sliced 1/4 ” thick
8 ounces canned tuna in oil
Yolks of 3 hard-boiled eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 anchovy fillets in oil
12 paper thin slices lemon with peel on
12 capers in salt, rinsed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the slices of bread on 1 or 2 baking sheets and toast in the oven for about 3 minutes or until barely golden, turning them once; allow to cool to room temperature.

Put the tuna with its oil, the egg yolks, butter, lemon juice and anchovy fillets in a food processor and process until a smooth paste forms.

It can be placed in a small serving bowl and served alongside the toasts.


Alternately, spread the paste on the toasts and top with the lemon slices.

Arrange a caper in the center of each.

Arrange on a platter and serve.

These crostini are absolutely delicious. I served them with bubbly rosé and it was a perfect match for a warm summer evening.

A Seafood Salad

18 Comments

There’s one thing that I really dislike after a vacation, and that’s having to go to the grocery store. Of course, no one else goes for me, so inevitably I drag myself out of the house to stock up on fruits, vegetables, and whatever I need for my planned meals.

But it’s especially nice to not have to go, especially the first day back. Especially if there’s some jet lag involved. Usually there’s unpacking, laundry, organizing, re-visiting lists, checking plants, and reuniting with the dogs that take precedence.

We have a pet sitter who will place frozen cuts of meat into the refrigerator on the day I ask her to, which is helpful. But my husband tends to eat heartier and meatier meals than I do. If you’ve ever seen me eat, you might be laughing at this. But seriously, I’d rather have a salad than a steak. Except that there’s no fresh lettuce and other veggies in the fridge after being gone for two weeks.

So enter my solution for having a nice meal on your first day back, without having to go to the store. It’s a salad of warm potatoes and canned seafood. It’s actually good when you have food in the house. The key, of course, is having good quality seafood on hand. The only think you have to plan ahead is to have some potatoes stored in the refrigerator before you leave town.
_MG_6961

So here’s what I did in order to procrastinate going to the grocery store for another day.

Potato and Seafood Salad

2-3 medium red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled
Canned tuna in oil
Canned octopus in oil
Other canned tuna, if necessary
Lettuce leaves, optional
Olive oil
Vinegar of choice
Capers
Salt
Pepper

Begin with the potatoes. Chop them up in equal pieces.
_MG_6960

Place them in boiling water. When they are tender, drain them in a colander.

_MG_6965

Add all of the seafood canned in oil to another colander over a small bowl and let it drain. Save the oil.
_MG_6962

Place the potatoes in a bowl, and add most all of the saved oil from the canned seafood, or to your taste preference. If you feel that the oil is too “fishy,” simply add olive oil to the still-warm potatoes. But this is an important step because the oil keeps the potatoes moist. Add some salt and toss gently.
_MG_6966

On a serving platter, place the lettuce leaves decoratively.
_MG_6964
Add the still warm potatoes.
_MG_6968
Add the seafood to the salad.
_MG_6969
Sprinkle the salad with a little more olive oil, if needed. I do.

Then sprinkle some vinegar over the salad. Today I used sherry vinegar, but any vinegar except balsamic would work well.
_MG_6970
If you prefer, make a vinaigrette using oil, vinegar, and some Dijon mustard first and pour that over the top of the salad.

Then add capers, a little salt, and a generous amount of pepper. Serve immediately.
_MG_6971

You could always include chopped shallots or chives, if they’re available.
_MG_6981

As I mentioned above, other ingredients can be added to this salad, like fresh tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and olives, but on a day when you have a limited supply of food, it’s a delightful and healthy salad to make and enjoy.
_MG_6974

note: If you don’t have potatoes, the same ingredients can be added to cooked pasta. I would suggest warming some minced garlic in a generous amount of olive oil first, then adding the pasta and seafood. If everything is dry, a little chicken broth can be added. Heat everything through over low heat, with a lid on the skillet, to maximize absorption of the liquid. Canned seafood is a staple in my pantry!

Pasta with Tuna

14 Comments

I’m pretty sure this recipe originates from Italy, but I just like to think of it as something simple, quick, and delicious.

I’ve taught this recipe to both my grown daughters, because it is so inexpensive to make; it’s a good recipe to know when you’re on a budget.

The cost of the dish depends mostly on the quality of canned tuna you wish to purchase. If you’re on a budget, I would recommend purchasing the $0.69 canned tuna in oil. You can use the oil in the recipe, or drain the tuna if you prefer. (It will be less fishy if you drain the tuna.) Or, use the highest quality tuna you can find – like Italian or Spanish tuna. Either way, it’s a delicious, fresh-tasting pasta that provides protein and will “stick to your ribs.”

Another reason I like to make this myself, and fortunately I’m not on a food budget anymore, is that so many other ingredients can be added to this basic pasta with tuna recipe, so I can play with the dish depending on my mood. Maybe I should have named this post Pasta with Tuna, many different ways.

Nonetheless, here is the basic recipe:

Pasta with Tuna

6 ounces pasta – I used whole-wheat spaghetti
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 – 2 ounce can anchovies with capers (I actually thought I was just buying a can of anchovies – surprise!)
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
3 – 5 ounce cans Albacore tuna in water, well drained
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the anchovies and pound on them a little until they dissolve. Add the garlic and cook for just a minute.

tuna6

Then add the tuna and break up the pieces a little. Add the lemon juice and stir well.

tuna4

When the pasta has cooked and drained, add it to the tuna in the pot and stir well. If you want it a little more moist, add more olive oil. It is now ready to serve.

If you wish, add a sprinkling of capers to the pasta, as well as some chopped parsley.

tuna2

To make the dish even more healthy and hearty, add some well-drained white beans to the pasta.

And, you can even add some drained diced tomatoes to the pasta if you want to extend it a bit more. I would add the tomatoes to the olive oil-anchovy-garlic mixture, and then proceed with the recipe.

Then there’s always breadcrumbs if you fancy, or grated Parmesan cheese if you require this dish to be more cheesy.

And there – many versions of pasta with tuna. All easy, fast, healthy, and inexpensive.