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

Directions:
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”

Tuna KVLY

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!

WATCH TONY make this dish on NORTH DAKOTA TODAY

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

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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.

Christmas Favorites: Panettone Bread Pudding

Today’s Christmas Favorite features a traditional Italian fruitcake called Panettone, which originated in the city of Milan. Not to be confused with our American version of fruitcake, Panettone is a light, moist, flavorful cake more like a bread, with candied orange peel, lemon zest and raisins.

Panettone is wonderful served in slices after a meal, or even for breakfast. On this occasion, however, Tony uses it to spice up a traditional comfort dessert, with his recipe for Panettone Bread Pudding.

“Panettone is the King of Christmas Cakes in Italian culture,” according to Tony. “In Etobicoke, the Toronto neighborhood where I grew up, the grocery stores and bakeries would be stacked with huge displays of Panettone. Big, bright boxes in every color, tied with fancy ribbons, all ready to give to your friends and loved ones. To me, Panettone signifies, hey, Christmas is here now.”

Soaking the Panettone in the wet ingredients before baking ensures that every piece of bread is moist. To further ensure the outcome, place your baking dish in a water bath to prevent the bread pudding from burning, curdling or drying out during baking.

For this occasion, we served the bread pudding with fresh berries and a dollop of our Honey Vanilla Ice Cream. But you can also enjoy it with our homemade Caramel Sauce.

Tony’s Panettone Bread Pudding

Ingredients:
7 large eggs

1½  cups heavy cream
1½  cups milk
1 tbsp. honey
½ cup sugar
1½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¾ lbs. Panettone, cut into cubes

Early Preparation: Pre-heat oven to 300° F

Instructions:
Combine the eggs, cream, milk, honey, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk until fully incorporated. Add the Panettone cubes and mix together. Cover with a damp towel and let the mixture soak for 30 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a 9×13 baking dish. Place the baking dish into a larger pan (like a roasting pan), and fill with hot water until it reaches half-way up the sides of the baking dish. This water bath will help to prevent burning, drying out or curdling of the mixture.

Bake at 300° F for one hour. When ready, the top should have a nice, golden crust. Place a toothpick into the center of the dish to test for doneness. Remove from oven and allow to cool for fifteen minutes before serving, if serving warm.

To Serve: Cut into squares, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with ice cream and fresh berries. Or drizzle some of Homemade Caramel Sauce over the top for some added comfort.

To Store: Wrap tightly with plastic or place in an airtight container for up to 5-7 days. Reheat in the microwave to warm it up before serving.

Christmas Favorites: Tony’s Norwegian Meatballs

Norwegian Meatballs with friends (640x480)When you’re married to one Sicilian, and mother to another, it’s easy to become infected by their passion for all things Italian. In fact, I often refer to myself as an I.B.M. – Italian by Marriage. But my grandfather, Don Mathison, was 100% Norwegian and proud of it, and every now and then we find a way to honor my heritage, too.

Today’s featured Christmas Favorite is Tony’s Norwegian Meatballs – that’s right, Tony’s. He created this recipe last year when he was asked to be a food presenter at Norsk Hostfest, the country’s largest Scandinavian festival, held each fall in Minot, ND.

Initially, he wasn’t sure if he was the right fit for this event, but I assured him that if I could create my own lasagna recipe, he could roll out some Norwegian meatballs just as well as any old hukalars or tulabook (invented words my 100% Norwegian Grandpa Don used when referring to a good old Norwegian).

Long lines for Norwegian Meatballs (640x480)

And I was right. Tony spent hours researching Norwegian meatballs and came up with his own original recipe. And with the help of our part-Norwegian son, Giovanni, his meatballs were a hit at the festival. One woman even told us that they were better than her Norwegian grandmother’s. Wow.

Tony’s Norwegian Meatballs are easy to make, utterly delicious, and authentically Norwegian. I know that my proud Norwegian Grandpa Don would definitely approve. Vær så god!

Norwegian Meatballs on plate (640x480)

Tony’s Norwegian Meatballs

Ingredients – Meatball Mix:
1 lb. ground beef, 85% lean

1 egg
½ cup whole milk
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup panko (Japanese-style) breadcrumbs (or plain breadcrumbs)
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup canola oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to  400 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the breadcrumbs and milk together until combined. Add the ground beef, egg, onions and spices and use your hands to mix them together. Season with salt and pepper and mix again until ingredients are incorporated.

Shape the meatballs to desired size (we recommend making balls 1-inch in diameter, which makes about 30 meatballs). Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat and cook the meatballs until browned on all sides.

Place the meatballs on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil and bake in a 400-degree oven for about 10 minutes to finish cooking.

Ingredients – Meatball Sauce:
2 cups beef broth

¼ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons roux
1 pinch kosher salt
1 pinch black pepper

Directions:
Place beef broth in a sauce pot and cook over medium-high heat. Once the broth starts to boil add the roux and whisk until broth thickens to a sauce consistency. Finish by adding cream and season with salt and pepper. Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Tony’s Tips:

  • Mix the meatball mixture by hand for at least five minutes to enhance the texture and bind the ingredients together.
  • For a gluten-free version, use a slurry of 2 tablespoons corn starch and 2 tablespoons water instead of the roux to thicken the gravy. Omit the breadcrumbs in the meatball mixture and mix the meat for a few more minutes.