Post-Holiday Detox: Albacore Tuna Salad

3-Albacore in Avocado

Today’s recipe for Albacore Chopped Salad makes me smile for many reasons. First, I simply adore this salad, and have ever since we introduced a version of it at our restaurant, Sarello’s, many years ago.

I love it in its original form, tossed with chopped Romaine lettuce, or with our recent addition of avocado – both as an edible vessel for serving and as an ingredient in the salad. My favorite way to enjoy this salad is on a thin piece of toast over mashed avocado.

Albacore on Toast 2

Second, this salad is gorgeously healthy – the colors and textures blend together so perfectly to create an irresistible desire to indulge.And go right ahead – indulge. Because this salad is loaded with ingredients that are naturally designed to enhance your health.

Both light and albacore tuna are good sources of protein, selenium and vitamin B12, and albacore has even better omega-3 fatty acids than other tuna varieties. But, it also has a higher mercury content, so keep your indulgences to once or twice a week if you can.

Lastly, I smile because I thought I hated canned tuna. For my entire life, I have shied away from dishes that contained canned tuna, mainly because most of them also contain mayonnaise. As an avowed mayo-phobe, I just couldn’t go there.

But this week Tony and I have featured two post-holiday detox dishes with canned tuna as a main ingredient (and no mayo – whatsoever), and I’m enjoying every bite. I think you will, too.

Albacore Chopped Salad with lettuce

Albacore Chopped Salad

Serves: 4 as a side dish; 2 as an entree

Salad Ingredients:
1 can cannelini beans, drained (about 15 oz.)
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
⅓ cup celery, sliced (half-moon shape)
¼ red onion, thinly sliced – the thinner, the better
1 ½ tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 5 oz. cans solid Albacore tuna (drained) or 1 12 oz. can
1 avocado, medium-diced
1 bag of chopped, clean romaine lettuce

Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette Ingredients:
1 egg yolk
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
Pinch of sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup olive oil

Combine egg yolk, lemon, garlic, sugar, and salt in a bowl. While whisking slowly, add olive oil in a thin stream, always whisking to emulsify. Incorporate all oil, taste, and adjust seasoning as desired.

Add salad ingredients to the dressing and stir so that vegetables and tuna are evenly coated. If making in advance, add the lettuce just before serving and toss to mix.

Tips from Tony and Sarah:

  • Vinaigrette can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.
  • A tablespoon or two of Dijon mustard or real mayonnaise can be used instead of the egg yolk and will extend the life of the dressing up to one week.
  • For a light lunch, mash up plain avocado to spread on thin toast and top with albacore salad, with or without lettuce.
  • For an elegant presentation, peel half an avocado and fill with albacore salad – omit the lettuce for more elegance.
  • To speed up the ripening process, place avocado in a paper bag with a ripe banana or apple for 24 hours.

Post-Holiday Detox: “Not Your Grandmother’s Tuna Fish Pasta”


To welcome the new year, this week we’ll be sharing some of our favorite Post-Holiday Detox recipes with you. Tony’s latest creation, Spaghetti with Tuna, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Chickpeas, is new to our repertoire and I have a feeling it’s going to become a regular favorite in our house. This is definitely not your grandmother’s tuna fish pasta dish.

This recipe meets our top 4 criteria for a healthy dish:

  1. Nutritional content – With the winning combination of tuna fish, chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and pasta, this dish is loaded with vital minerals, nutrients and vitamins.
  2. Easy to make: Good recipes should consist of easy-to-find ingredients and require minimal preparation.
  3. Visually Appealing: Hey, we eat with our eyes, too, and there’s no reason a healthy dish can’t also be beautiful.
  4. Delicious – With the right recipe, a healthy dish should taste so good that you look forward to having it again.

Since today is National Spaghetti Day (who knew?) Tony shared this recipe during his segment this week on North Dakota Today, and we’ve included the link to the video demonstration for you below. We’ve already received several requests for the recipe and hope you enjoy it as much as we do!


Tony’s Spaghetti with Tuna, Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Chickpeas Recipe

1 pkg. spaghetti
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (this makes very mild – increase as desired)
¼ cup red onion, small-diced
½ cup dry white wine
Juice of one lemon
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 5-oz. cans light tuna in water, drained
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, to al dente. Before draining, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water for later use if needed.

In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat until hot, then add garlic, crushed red pepper and red onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 2 minutes. Add white wine and lemon juice and continue cooking over medium heat for another 2 minutes, to reduce white wine.

Add sun-dried tomatoes, chickpeas and cooked pasta and cook over medium heat for about one minute, stirring to combine. Add the tuna and parsley and keep tossing for another 1 to 2 minutes, until all ingredients are hot and evenly dispersed among the pasta. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.

Transfer to serving bowl and garnish with a light sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese.

Tony’s Tips:

  • This sauce is very light and intended merely to coat the ingredients. If the dish appears to be drying out, add the reserved pasta water right before the salt and pepper, starting with a half-cup up to one cup. Continue cooking for one minute just to heat.
  • Excellent also as a chilled salad – just add a tablespoon or two of canola oil, toss and serve.

New Year’s Eve Fare: Blackened Sirloin with Sparkling Prosecco

Prosecco with edible creaturesThis week, we’re focusing on New Year’s Eve with some great ideas to spice up your special event.

When planning a cocktail or dinner party, we like to keep things simple and fun to ensure the food and beverage will be a success.  We try to find recipes that can be prepared in advance, so that we’re not doing too much right before the party. And we love to serve something at the start as a signature beverage – guests love this and it’s a great way to get the conversation flowing.

When we’re hosting an event, whether it’s a cooking class or dinner party, we always acknowledge our guests with a toast at the start of the evening. A toast is special, a way to thank your guests for coming, to say, we’re so glad you’re here with us. The first thing we do when our guests arrive is greet them with a glass of bubbly Prosecco.

1 The Champagne is Flowing!Prosecco is an Italian sparkling white wine from the region of Veneto. Its classic flavor carries notes of citrus, almonds, honey, melon and pear, and you can find a nice variety to choose from in our local liquor stores. Clean and crisp with small bubbles, Prosecco varies from slightly dry to dry, and is always well-received.

Prosecco is a friendly wine – not too big, not too small, it’s just right. Festive, fun and affordable, Prosecco  can be enjoyed during any part of a meal. But, we love to serve it at the beginning.

This makes it the perfect choice to serve with our featured food recipe, Blackened Sirloin with Horseradish Cream Sauce.

We love this dish as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvres because it’s guaranteed to be a success with your guests – nearly everyone loves beef. Plus, it’s a great way to add some heartiness to the traditional cocktail fare.

The secret to this recipe is in how you cook, and slice, the meat. Coating the steak with freshly ground pepper and searing it before roasting help create a blackened effect. Cook the sirloin to a perfect medium rare, and then cut the steak as thin as possible – the thinner, the better. The medium-rare temperature preserves the flavor of the sirloin, and the thin slices help ensure that every bite is tender.

This recipe can be made up to two days in advance

We serve our Blackened Sirloin with homemade Horseradish Cream Sauce, which can also be prepared ahead of time.  This simple, yet amazingly delicious, condiment is always a crowd-pleaser and Tony often jokes that I serve beef only as an excuse to enjoy the horseradish cream sauce.

To serve, place the sliced sirloin on a platter and garnish with thinly sliced red onions and capers. Serve the horseradish sauce on the side.

We first shared this recipe with our readers in December 2012, many of whom now count this recipe among their top party favorites. It is a perfect way to ring in the new year, and we hope it becomes a favorite for you, too.

Click on the link below for the recipe.

Blackened Sirloin with Horseradish Cream Sauce

Serves: 12 for hors d’oeuvres

2 10 oz. top sirloin steaks
1 cup fresh coarse ground black pepper (½ cup per steak)
Kosher salt
2 tbsp. olive oil, (1 tbsp. per steak)

For serving: 1 red onion and capers

Lightly sprinkle meat with salt and then coat completely with pepper. Spread the pepper onto a plate or baking dish and press the steak into the pepper on all sides until coated.

Heat a sauté pan over high heat until hot, then add olive oil. Let the oil become hot then place the steak in the pan. If your pan allows, you may cook more than one steak at a time. Sear the steak for two minutes on all four sides (two minutes per side), then remove meat from pan, transfer to a baking sheet, and bake in the oven at 350°F.

For medium rare (the ideal temperature for this recipe), keep in the oven for 3-4 minutes.  Immediately refrigerate until cool enough to wrap each steak in plastic, and return to the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight if possible. This recipe can be prepared up to 2 days in advance.

Within two hours prior to serving, carve the meat as thinly as possible and place onto serving platter. Cover the platter with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with thinly sliced red onions (cut into rings) and capers, and serve with horseradish cream sauce on the side.

Horseradish Cream Sauce

Serves:  10 – 12

1 pint sour cream
2 heaping tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 -3 teaspoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together, and add more horseradish, lemon, salt and pepper as desired. Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy with beef tenderloin, prime rib, or a great steak.

Tony’s Tip:  Prepare at least 2 hours before serving for best flavor. This sauce is a great accompaniment to beef, and can be made several days in advance. Will keep in refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Christmas Favorites: Homemade Marshmallows

Homemade Marshmallow collage 2

Tony and I were the coordinators for our son Giovanni’s 5th grade class Christmas party this week, and one of the biggest hits on our treats menu – with the kids and parent helpers alike – was the sweet little homemade marshmallows we served with steaming cup of hot cocoa.

Several of the kids – both boys and girls – even asked us for the recipe, so we’re featuring it today as our Christmas Favorite.

Every time I make marshmallows, I’m surprised and delighted by how easy the process is, and most of the ingredients are pantry staples. To make them, you will need a stand mixer, candy thermometer, three packets of unflavored gelatin, granulated sugar, powdered sugar (also called confectioners’ or icing sugar), corn syrup, water, salt and vanilla. That’s it. And some patience, too, because this recipe requires the marshmallows to sit for at least 12 hours or overnight before they’re ready to eat.

The result is a sweet treat filled with charm and whimsy, and they make a perfect holiday or hostess gift when presented in a clear bag tied with colorful ribbon. Homemade marshmallows have a wonderfully airy texture and delicate flavor, and taste so much better than a store-bought version.

You can play around with the shape to create different sizes and styles – I love to use a small heart-shaped cutter or cut them into strips to tie them in little knots.You can also add food coloring (I prefer the gel variety) and/or flavored extracts like peppermint and almond, and my favorite presentation is light pink with vanilla extract. They store well in an airtight container for at least two weeks and look darling no matter their size, shape and color.

So bring a little charm to your holiday fare with this sweet recipe and happy cooking!


Homemade Marshmallows

1 cup cold water, divided
3 ¼-oz. packets unflavored gelatin
2 cups granulated white sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or other flavoring)
Food coloring as desired
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted, for coating pan and dusting marshmallows

Grease a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish with unsalted butter and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper. Generously sift powdered sugar over the paper to coat, about 2 to 3 tablespoons. In the bowl of your electric mixer, add ½ cup cold water and then add the three packets of gelatin. Allow to sit until gelatin softens, about 15 to 20 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, cook the remaining ½ cup of water with the granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Cover the pan and boil for about two minutes, then uncover and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.

Adjust the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil, without stirring, until it reaches 240 degrees, or the “soft ball” stage, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Using the whisk attachment, turn your mixer to its lowest setting and slowly add the hot liquid to the softened gelatin. To avoid hot splatters, gradually increase to high once the syrup has been added. Whip the mixture until very thick and stiff, about ten minutes, then add the vanilla and any food coloring and beat until combined, about a minute. When ready, the mixture will have tripled in volume and the sides of the bowl should be lukewarm.

Use a spatula to scrape the marshmallow cream into the prepared pan and spread into the corners the best you can. At this stage the marshmallow mixture will be quite sticky, so dip the spatula into water if needed. I found it easiest if I just dipped my hands in water and used them to smooth the mixture into the pan.

Dust the marshmallow with another heavy coating of sifted powdered sugar and leave uncovered to set at room temperature for at least 12 hours, or overnight. To remove from pan, run a knife around the edge and then use a spatula to gently lift an edge of the marshmallow.

Use your hands to turn the marshmallow out onto a baking sheet dusted with powdered sugar, paper side up. Remove the parchment paper and dust the top with more powdered sugar. Use a sharp knife, scissors, pizza wheel or cookie cutter to cut the marshmallow into desired shape.

Fill another baking dish or pan with 1 cup of sifted powdered sugar and toss each cut marshallow in to coat, then use a small sieve to shake off any excess sugar. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.