Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Favorite Tuna Sandwich

Submitted by Michelle

One of my favorite lunchtime standbys is the tried but true Tuna Salad Sandwich. It can be served in a variety of ways: in an actual salad, on a crusty roll, grilled into a tuna melt, or my particular favorite, on toasted sourdough bread. And tuna salad is flavorful enough to stand alone on bread or be complimented by sliced avocado, lettuce, tomato, sliced cucumber or any other variety of vegetables.

Because I enjoy tuna so much I have long searched for the perfect recipe that will enhance the flavor of the tuna without overdoing it. Quite a few years back I ran across an article in Cooks Illustrated about tuna salad and my search was over. (If you've never read Cooks Illustrated I highly recommend it. The magazine is published 6 times a year and is extremely informative and instructional, without being overly academic or confusing.)

I usually have all the ingredients for the recipe in my pantry and refrigerator so I can make it anytime I need lunch, dinner or a snack.

You will need canned tuna packed in water, lemon juice, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard (I'm not a fan of mustard BUT the small amount in the recipe kicks up the flavor without over powering everything else), red onion, celery, dill pickle, garlic, salt, pepper, dried or fresh dill. (You could also use fresh flat leaf parsley in place of the dill.)

Here is what makes this recipe so superior to all the rest. Cooks Illustrated advises draining the tuna in a colander (that thing you usually use for draining pasta), flaking the tuna and then squeezing the juice of 1/2 of a lemon over the tuna to help enhance the flavor. The great thing with the colander technique is that all the liquids are completely removed leaving behind only the tuna with a hint of lemon. A soggy tuna sandwich can be so unappetizing and this method totally avoids that situation. I use a fine mesh sieve, but any colander will do the trick.
I mix everything really, really well and then let it sit for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator so the flavors can meld.
Classic Tuna Salad
makes about 2 cups, enough for 4 sandwiches
2 (6 ounce) cans of solid white tuna in water
2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon (I just squeeze 1/2 of a cut lemon over the tuna and that does the trick.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 small rib celery, minced (about 1/4 cup)**
2 tablespoons minced red onion**
2 tablespoons minced dill or sweet pickles**
1/2 small clove garlic minced or pressed through a garlic press
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or dill leaves (I use dried when I don't have fresh.)
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Drain tuna in colander and shred with fingers until no clumps remain and texture is fine and even. Transfer tuna to medium bowl and mix in lemon juice*, salt, pepper, celery, onion, pickles, garlic and parsley or dill until evenly blended. Fold in mayonnaise and mustard until tuna is evenly moistened. Can be covered and refrigerated up to 3 days.

*I prefer to add the lemon juice while the tuna is in the colander.
** I usually mince 2 ribs of celery, lots of red onion and 1/2 of a dill pickle. I like lots of stuff in my tuna.

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