Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Simple Tuna and White Bean Salad

Hello from the surface of the sun, friends. In case you're not here in Texas with us, and not paying attention, just know that it's hot. I know, it's always hot in Texas in the summer. Why do we always get caught by surprise by sizzling sidewalks and dimishing lakes? This year is actually different. Not different from 1980, but different from lots of other years. We've had just about a month of temperatures at or over 100 degrees. I think most days it's actually felt like 180. No rain since June. And we're not done yet, is the thing. No end is in sight.

During the summer of 1980, I stayed at my grandmother's house for a couple of weeks. The empty field next to her apartment complex caught on fire. Everything was so dry and crunchy that the smallest spark could set off a blaze. As we all stood on the sidewalk watching the flames inch close to the apartments, a few grasshoppers buzzed out of the grass toward the crowd. Then there were more. Then there were more. THEN THERE WERE MORE! It was amazing, friends. They were like popcorn flying up out of the burning field. Thankfully, the fire department arrived and was able to put it out and keep the apartments out of danger. Which was now inundated with uprooted grasshoppers. That's how I remember that summer. So hot that the earth burst into flames and erupted with grasshoppers.

So who's turning on their oven these days? Nobody that doesn't have to, I'll tell you that. We are no different, which is why you haven't seen a post about those yummy donut muffins yet.

We've been eating lots of melon, berries, cucumbers, lettuce, etc. Things that are cool and full of water, and that don't require cooking. One of my favorite lunches is a salad made with quinoa, chopped parsley or spinach, cucumber, chickpeas, and walnuts. Dress that up with some olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, and you'll be super-happy and super-cool. This afternoon, I'm making a smoothie with blueberries and cucumbers.

Last night's no-cook supper was a very simple Tuna and White Bean Salad. (Because this is how I roll in the kitchen: simple.) Here's how I did it:

1 can of fabulous Pisces Tuna
1 can organic cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
About 1 C spinach leaves, chiffonaded (don't panic, see note below)
2-3 green onions, chopped (optional)
1/4 C olive oil
juice from 1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place drained tuna in a medium bowl and casually cut into large chunks with a fork. We want the tuna to stay in chunks for this salad.
2. Add drained cannellini beans.
3. Add spinach and onions (if using).
4. Mix together gently.
5. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.
6. Pour over tuna mixture and stir gently.

You can store tightly covered in the refrigerator for a couple of hours if you have time, or serve immediately if you don't. It is better cold, and giving the flavors time to marry is really nice.

I served this with simple and tasty toaster garlic bread:

1. Toast a slice of your favorite GF bread per person.
2. While it't still warm out of the toaster, rub liberally with a raw garlic clove.
3. Brush with olive oil or spread on your favorite butter or butter substitute.

You can serve this salad over spinach or lettuce if you like. A side of cool fruit might be nice. Think cool and simple. That's how we'll roll in August.

Note: "Chiffonade" is a French term that means, "made of rags." It's a lovely cutting technique to use on little leafy things like basil, mint, and spinach. You end up with a lovely and flavorful green confetti. To chiffonade, you stack up 3 or 4 leaves, roll them into a tight little cylinder, then slice the cylinder. (For photos, see our friends over at Fine Cooking. I love to chiffonade spinach and add it to scrambled eggs or quinoa salad. But just think of the possibilities! How many ways could you use that fluffy green confetti? See, no need to panic. :)


  1. What a great recipe for the summer! I also liked the 1980 memory. I spent the summer of 1980 driving across county in a car...which broke down constantly. I grew very tired of hearing "Lori, get out and flag a trucker down. They are so accommodating in Texas. Gah!"

  2. Found your site on my sleepless night. Love your recipes and blog. Hope you are far from the fires!

  3. Thanks so much! Yes, we're a good distance from the fires, but it does seem like Texas is burning down. Very scary!