Simplicity itself

January 18, 2012

The photo below has nothing to do with the majority of this blog. It’s huevos rancheros with farm-made chorizo that I made last weekend for breakfast. Farm-made chorizo rocks, I might add.

Chorizo, eggs, ranchero sauce, cotija, tortillas. What's not to love?

I wish I had a picture of last night’s dinner. But the SD card for the camera was still in the laptop at work, and my phone has decided it doesn’t want to take pictures any more, so we have none. Nor did I take any today when I had the leftovers.

White beans, tuna and tomatos. Now, I love each of those ingredients, but I’d never considered combining them until I commenced reading food blogs and seeing that the combo was a common one, and in fact, a classic Italian prep. Warm, as a pasta sauce; cold, as a salad.

I opted for room temperature, as a salad.

I had a GOOD can of tuna from the Culinary District — one of those five-dollar jokers. No Starkist or Chicken of the Sea. Italian tuna, canned in olive oil. (I don’t think you can even GET mass-market tuna packed in olive oil at the grocery any more.) I had a can of Great Northern beans, aka cannelini beans. I had good Mennonite tomatos. And I did not want the spaghetti and meatballs everyone else was having.

So I drained the tuna, saving the olive oil in a cup; dumped it in a bowl. Drained the beans, not saving the liquid in anything. Dug out a good tablespoon full of capers from my salt-packed jar, rinsed them and let them soak in hot water a bit. Added a splash of balsamic vinegar to the olive oil and whisked it up. Dumped everything except the tomatos in together and gave it a stir. Spooned some out on three slices of Mennonite tomato.

Sweet Baby Jesus. I am going to have to try this with grocery store tuna, just to see if the fancy stuff is that much better and is what takes each of these elements out of its natural state, which ain’t too doggoned bad as it is, and elevates it to new heights and a totally different flavor profile. If a salad can be rich and hearty, this one is rich and hearty. The balsamic vinegar cuts the richness of the olive oil and the tuna, the beans provide a smooth, satisfying counterpoint, and the capers give it a pop of flavor. And all of it plays just marvelously with the bright freshness of the tomato.

Damn, it was good! And I didn’t even add the basil that was suggested.

I still love the old-fashioned, classic tuna salad — mayo, sweet pickles, hard-boiled egg, tuna — and it won’t disappear from my menu (although I may go for a year or more than not make it, but there’s a local deli that does a marvelous version). But this — this is something different, kinda like you can have chili or you can have hamburgers and love them both, but they’re both ground beef.  (Speaking of which, I think I’ll make some chili for the kids to eat while I’m gone Sunday-Tuesday.) Makes me wonder what all else I can do with some fancy tuna.

Tonight, though, I’m going to be stewing some chicken in some coconut milk for a Caribbean-inspired stew, in honor of the fact I got me some Jimmy Buffett tickets and will be doing the Fin Dance at Verizon Arena March 1! You and y’mama ‘n ’em come get you some chicken stew, and we’ll put some Jimmy on the Bose and enjoy ourselves.

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3 Responses to “Simplicity itself”

  1. Len Cleavelin Says:

    I don’t think you can even GET mass-market tuna packed in olive oil at the grocery any more.

    Could you EVER get mass-market tuna packed in olive oil? I seem to remember it being packed in vegetable oil (and maybe you still can, though the water packed stuff has pretty well chased it out of the market).

  2. Kath the Cook Says:

    Hi Kay – remember seeing that you are headed to Orlando for a conference or such. This link will help you score good meals

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/entertainment/restaurants/orl-foodies-2011,0,3249601.htmlpage

    I live in Brevard County (on the coast straight east from Orlando). Hope you have a great visit – regards – Kath the Cook

  3. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    Hey, Kath. Turned out I had one night I could go out and eat; we went to Cuba Libre, which was decent. I wanted to go over to Celebration to go to Columbia, but didn’t make it. Thanks for the link, tho; will hang onto it for the next time I’m there.


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