Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mediterranean Salads with Tuna and Toasted Nuts

I love Mediterranean cuisine because so much of it is deliciously satisfying without being heavy and unhealthful. Even salads are loaded with abundant rich flavors and textures—and everything to feel good about. Olive oil is a major component—from the dressing to the assorted olives to the artichoke hearts packed in oil to the olive oil-packed tuna.

Tree nuts also add to the flavor, texture, and healthfulness of the dish. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, macadamias—go for a mixture, give them a light toasting to draw out the oils, and they’re ready to go.

When you’re using canned or jarred tuna, try to find the best variety you can. Wild-caught albacore is a good choice. For this recipe, I used a jarred Italian brand that packages the tuna in long, cylindrical pieces in 6.7-ounce jars. Whatever tuna you use, you need just less than a cup for the salads.

Jarred Tuna
Tuna Pieces


For the Vinaigrette
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp finely chopped shallot
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the Salad
  • 1/2 cup mixed tree nuts
  • 5-6 cups coarsely chopped romaine lettuce
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6.7-oz jar wild-caught tuna, packed in olive oil, drained and chunked (a little less than 1 cup chunked tuna)
  • 1/2 cup small artichoke hearts packed in olive oil (from a 6-oz jar), halved lengthwise if large
  • 1/3 cup thin, short yellow or orange bell pepper strips
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced shallot
  • 1 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small stem tomato, seeded and cut into 8 wedges
  • assorted black and green Greek olives, to taste
  • toasted crusty bread for serving (optional)
Chunked Tuna 
Salad Ingredients

For the Vinaigrette
  1. Combine the vinegar, lemon juice, shallot, and mustard in a bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil and season with salt and pepper.
Whisked Vinaigrette
For the Salad
  1. Heat a small, dry skillet over medium heat and add the nuts. Toast, shaking the pan frequently, until aromatic, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
  2. Place the lettuce in a large bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
Toasted Mixed Nuts
Tossed Lettuce
Divide the lettuce mixture between 2 plates and divide the toasted nuts and remaining ingredients on top. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and serve with crusty, toasted bread alongside, if desired.

Mediterranean Salads with Tuna and Toasted Nuts

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