Tuna With A Twist

IN THE KITCHEN

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We all have our different tales of tuna. Mine include:

  • Eating tuna sandwiches my mother made in the backseat of the car, using sandwich spread, on many a long-haul trip between Oregon and Oklahoma when I was very young.
  • Concocting a tuna casserole that tasted like chicken in college. I used a box of chicken flavored rice, cream of chicken soup and a can of tuna. I made the rice per the directions on the box, dumped in the tuna (drained) and the soup (undiluted); mixed it well over the cooling burner which was enough to heat it through and that was it. It was good both hot and cold (at least in my opinion at the time).

I don't recall ever eating tuna casserole at home, but I possibly did in the school cafeteria over the years. And with the advent of "helpers" I have probably had it in a few other dishes, but the old reliable is just a regular tuna sandwich: drained tuna mixed with Miracle Whip, two or three hard-boiled eggs and some sweet relish, served on plain, white bread.

Going through my cookbook collection, I found a surprising number of ways to use tuna that, more-or-less, go beyond the tuna sandwich and tuna casserole. In fact, you can do appetizers, soup, salad, sandwiches and main dishes with tuna.

The recipes come from "Betty Crocker's Step-by-Step Recipes" and "The Encyclopedia of Creative Cooking."

Freezer Canapes with Tuna Spread

1 loaf, day-old unsliced whole wheat, rye or white sandwich bread

softened butter

1, 6-1/2 ounce can tuna, drained

1, 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1/4 teaspoon red pepper sauce

Garnish: thinly sliced radishes, slice and pitted ripe olives, sliced pimiento-stuffed olives, celery leaves or snipped parsley

Trim crust from bread, cut loaf horizontally into 1/2-inch slices. Spread slices with softened butter and cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.

Mix tuna with softened cream cheese and red pepper sauce, makes about a cup of spread.

Top buttered bread with about 1/2 teaspoon of tuna spread and freeze by placing on a cardboard tray, covering with plastic and wrapping well with aluminum -- will keep up to two months.

An hour before serving, remove foil from tray and let stand in plastic wrap at room temperature. Remove plastic wrap and garnish as desired and serve.

The cup of tuna spread will be enough for about four dozen 1-inch canapes.

Tuna Slaw Slices

3 cups shredded cabbage

1, 6-1/2-ounce can tuna, drained and flaked

1 medium stalk of celery, sliced (about 1 cup)

1 small green pepper, chopped (about 1/4 cup)

1/4 cup chopped pecans

3/4 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing

1/2 small onion, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

24 slices rye or sourdough bread, toasted

Soft butter or margarine

Mix cabbage, tuna, celery, green pepper and pecans. Mix mayonnaise, onion, lemon juice and salt. Toss two mixtures together. Spread toast with butter and top each slice with tuna slaw. Makes 24 open-faced sandwiches.

Tuna Au Gratin

2, 6-1/2-ounce cans of tuna, drained

2/3 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 cup chopped pimiento

2/3 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing

1/2 cup fine, dry bread or cracker crumbs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients except crumbs and cheese and put in a 7-inch-by-11-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with crumbs and cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Tuna Spaghetti

2 tablespoons chopped onion

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tablespoons vegetable oil

1, 15-1/2-ounce spaghetti sauce

1, 9-1/2-ounce can tuna, drained

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

2 quarts water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon salt

7 ounces uncooked vermicelli

1/2 cup sliced, pimiento-stuffed olives

Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook and stir onion and garlic in a tablespoon of oil in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until onion is tender. Stir in spaghetti sauce and tuna, along with oregano. Heat to boiling and reduce heat, simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes.

Heat water, 1 tablespoon of oil and salt to boiling in 3-quart saucepan, add pasta and cook until tender.

Stir olives into sauce and pour over pasta, top with Parmesan. Makes 4 servings..

Quick Tuna Chowder

1, 10-3/4 ounce can condensed tomato soup

1 soup can of milk

2 tablespoons instant, minced onion

2 tablespoons dried green bell pepper flakes

1 tablespoon instant chicken bouillon

1/2 teaspoon instant minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper

2, 6-1/2 ounce cans tuna, drained and flaked

1, 16-ounce can lima beans

1, 15-ounce can sliced or whole new potatoes, drained and chopped

1-1/4 cups cheese-flavored croutons

Heat soup, milk, onion, pepper flakes, instant bouillon, garlic and lemon pepper to boiling in 3-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Stir in tuna, beans (with liquid) and potatoes. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Garnish with croutons.

Cheese Croutons

2 slices bread

butter

Grated (or powdered) cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spread both sides of each slice of bread with butter and sprinkle both sides

lightly with grated (or powdered) cheese. Cut bread slices into 1/2-inch squares and spread in an ungreased, shallow baking pan. Bake the croutons, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Tuna Salad

7 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni (about 2 cups)

1, 8-ounce jar pasteurized process pimiento cheese spread

1, 2-ounce jar broken, pimiento- stuffed olives, drained

2, 6-1/2-ounce cans tuna, drained and broken into chunks

2 medium stalks celery, sliced (about 1 cup)

1/3 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

dried parsley flakes

Cook macaroni as directed on package and drain. Stir in cheese product until melted. Reserve 2 tablespoons of olives. Into the macaroni, and stir in the remaining with the tuna, celery, mayonnaise, lemon juice and seasoned salt. Cover and refrigerate for two hours. Garnish with reserved olives and parsley before serving. Makes 6 servings.

Tuna Toss

2, 6-1/2 ounce cans tuna, chilled, drained and broken into chunks

2 medium stalks of celery, sliced (about 1 cup)

1/2 to 2/3 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing

1/4 cup snipped parsley

1 teaspoon lemon juice

6 cherry tomatoes

2-ounce brick or Cheddar cheese, cut into six 1/2-inch cubes

6 pimiento-stuffed olives

2 cups garlic-and-onion flavored croutons

6 lettuce cups

Toss tuna, celery, mayonnaise, parsley and lemon juice; refrigerate 1 hour. Skewer tomatoes, cheese and olives on wooden picks. Toss croutons and tuna mixture and fill each lettuce cup with the combination, topping each cup with the kabobs as garnish.

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