spring

TUNA GREEK SALAD PLATTER (SPONSORED)

Tuna Greek Salad Platter - A Thought For Food

My pescatarianism comes up often in conversation. This isn’t a huge surprise as I spend my days photographing burgers and steaks and roast chicken. There’s a fascination that individuals have with the dichotomy between my work and diet. When asked to explain, I typically give the same spiel: around the time of my 15th birthday, I stopped eating meat (though I’m quick to clarify that fish is meat). I had spent the previous summer at a film program in Oxford, England, where lunches and dinners consisted mostly of beef covered with cream sauce with big piles of potatoes to go with it. I came back from that trip with the feeling that my body needed to switch things up and quickly realized that I felt better after eating seafood.

During the first few years of this new diet, I consumed quite a bit of tuna, as this was something I could easily pack for lunch or afternoon snack. I still always keep at least a few cans in the pantry.  And while I will use tuna packed in water for creating a mayonnaise-based tuna salad, I always prefer tuna in olive oil. I was very excited to have the opportunity to try Portofino’s Italian-style tuna. This isn’t the kind of canned tuna I wanted to mask the flavors. Instead, I wanted to taste the subtle richness of the extra virgin olive oil and high quality albacore.

I thought a lot about what I could do with Portofino tuna, but kept going back to the Greek salad. Now, if your only experience with one of these is a soggy platter of greens and shriveled, bland olives you had at a diner one time, well, this is not that. When done right, a Greek salad can be a beautiful thing. Fresh ingredients are a must, but also high quality feta and kalamata olives are key. I didn’t really want to mess with perfection, but I felt that the addition of spring asparagus would give it some seasonal flare with a bright dill dressing to lighten everything up.   And, of course, the tuna was an excellent topping to round out this satisfying dish.

Be sure to try Portofino out when planning your next dinner (In the Boston-area, it’s available at Market Basket, Hannaford, and Big Y). For those planning a getaway this summer, their tuna comes in packets as well, making it easier to transport this wonderful ingredient.

Tuna Greek Salad Platter - A Thought For Food
Tuna Greek Salad Platter - A Thought For Food

TUNA GREEK SALAD PLATTER

Yield:
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
For the Salad
1 head Romaine lettuce, leaves washed, dried and torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 English cucumber, partially peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, drained (if there’s liquid)
Feta, cubed
1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, stems removed
1 bunch asparagus spears, trimmed
2 cans Portofino Italian-style canned tuna

For the Dressing
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Directions:
Fill a large pot with an inch of water. Bring water to a boil. Add steamer basket with asparagus to the pot and cook for 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness of asparagus spears.

Meanwhile prepare a large ice bath in a bowl. Transfer asparagus to the ice water to stop the cooking process.

To prepare the dressing, whisk the Dijon mustard, dill, salt, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar in a medium-bowl. While continuing to whisk, slowly drizzle in olive oil until emulsified. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together all of the salad ingredients. Transfer to a serving platter and top with tuna. Serve with the dressing on the side.

Spring Vegetable Tots

Spring Vegetable Tots

Somehow I've gone 33 years without making tater tots. Don't ask me how that's possible. It's just the way it is. It's not that I'm opposed to them, but if I'm going the potato route, fries are what often call to me. I'm happy to announce, however, that I'm on "Team Tots" now. Or should I say #teamtots? Are hashtags still in? 

My friend Dan isn't just a blogger, cookbook author, and TV star (he won Guy's Grocery Games last year), but he is king of tots. He's so into them, in fact, that he's written a book featuring fifty creative ways to use them. I decided to give my first go at a spuddy dish with this bowl of my favorite spring-time vegetables. Potatoes and mushrooms and fiddleheads and ramps. What more could one ask for? 

SPRING VEGETABLE TOTS-0504.jpg
Spring Vegetable Tots

 

SPRING VEGETABLE TOTS

Servings:
Serves 4-6 as a side

Ingredients:
1/2 lb fiddleheads, washed thoroughly
2 handfuls of ramps, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 lb oyster mushrooms, any large ones sliced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons butter
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
40 frozen tater tots
Salt
Black pepper
Cooking oil 

Directions
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add fiddleheads and cook for 8 minutes. While they're cooking, prepare a bowl of ice water. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fiddleheads to the bowl to shock them. After a few minutes, drain all the water from the bowl and set fiddleheads aside. 

In a saute pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and ramps and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add fiddleheads and cook for another 5 minutes. Pour in lemon juice. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste, as well as most of the rosemary, leaving a little for garnish. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly coat with cooking oil and spread tots on top in an even layer. Bake in the oven for 24-26 minutes, until golden brown. 

Transfer tots and cooked spring vegetables to serving bowl and mix together. Garnish with remaining chopped rosemary.

 

Shrimp and Israeli Couscous Salad with Mango and Avocado

Shrimp and Israeli Couscous Salad with Mango and Avocado - A Thought For Food

Being the primary cook in our house, I have a lot of control over what's on the table. I prepare what I crave, and lately it's been salads. Often this is a green salad with vegetables and roasted salmon. However, when I'm in the mood for something heartier, I bust out the rice or couscous (I love my carbs). For this bowl, I pulled together a bunch of ingredients that make me sublimely happy: shrimp, mango, herbs, and avocado. It may not be the healthiest "salad," but its fresh and vibrant flavors are what I need to get me through these last weeks of winter.

Shrimp and Israeli Couscous Salad with Mango and Avocado - A Thought For Food

Shrimp and Israeli Couscous Salad with Mango and Avocado

Servings: 4-6, as a side

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
3 cups vegetable broth
3/4 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 mango, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 avocado, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup torn mint leaves
1/8 cup torn parsley leaves, stems removed
1 red pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons minced ginger
Juice of 1 lime
Olive oil
Vegetable oil
Paprika
Salt
Black pepper

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add couscous and stir continuously until the couscous gets a little color and smells toasted, 4 to 5 minutes. Add water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. If there is any remaining liquid, drain through a colander. 

In a mixing bowl, toss shrimp with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon paprika. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes on each side.

Transfer the couscous and shrimp to a large serving bowl and toss with the red pepper, mango, lime juice, parsley, mint, garlic, and ginger. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Shrimp and Israeli Couscous Salad with Mango and Avocado - A Thought For Food