My kitchen is never without a jar of tuna packed in oil. It’s often the thing that saves me from feeling like I have nothing to eat.
It ties together the scraps of food—the last of the kale, that pesky half-bulb of fennel, even eggs—that I end up with a few days after a greenmarket trip, and it usually makes those scraps feel a little more substantial.
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It also plays nicely with other pantry staples like canned tomatoes, beans, and preserved lemons.
Even though tuna is a hero in my kitchen, I don’t (and wouldn’t) eat it every day of the week. I don’t know about the mercury levels or fishing practices for every brand of jarred tuna, but I do know that there are brands out there that are selling more sustainable tuna with lower mercury levels. But still, tuna every night for a week might put you off of it for a while, so think of this article as inspiration rather than consecutive meals.
Tomato Sauce with Olives and Tuna Tuna in tomato sauce? As it turns out, the two make a rich, complex sauce—and all you need is a stocked pantry. I made a lazy version of Kitchen Butterfly’s lovely Barca Tuna Sauce and was very happy.
Niçoise-ish Salad This one’s obvious, but you can make a variation on a Niçoise salad all year using what you have on hand. The one pictured is super simple with olives, tuna, and a medium-cooked egg. If you want to build from there, throw in French green beans, tomatoes, baby potatoes, or whatever else is in season.
Tuna Frittata I felt like I was going out on a limb here, but tuna omelettes are not unheard of, and a tuna frittata isn’t too far off from that. I used a lot of parsley, a shallot, and doused the thing in olive oil once it was on my plate. And though I didn’t try it, I think it’d be good as a sandwich on baguette with homemade aioli.
Lemony Tuna Sandwich I like lemony tuna sandwiches with capers or olives and lots of parsley. Preserved lemons work nicely, too (did I mention I have a thing for them?). I made this one with all of the above, and stirred in a bit of homemade aioli. But in the world of tuna sandwiches, you have options: Try this pan bagnat—it's one of my favorites.
1 large bulb fennel, shaved 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped 1 tablespoon preserved lemon, minced 1/4 cup olive oil-packed tuna 2 tablespoons olive oil A squeeze or two of lemon, to taste Salt and pepper, to taste
Top photo by James Ransom, all others by Kristy Mucci
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).