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Sunday Tuna Salad

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From COWGIRL CHEF by Ellise Pierce, Running Press, 2012

Sunday Tuna Salad
Makes 2 dinner-size or 4 first-course salads
a big handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 (6-ounce/160 gram)* can of tuna packed in olive oil, drained
a handful of kalamata olives, split in half and pits removed
2 tablespoons of capers, drained and rinsed
about 2/3 of a day-old baguette, cut into cubes (about 4 cups)
1 clove of garlic, minced
olive oil
sea salt and pepper
2 eggs
a big handful of arugula
a small handful of fresh basil, roughly torn
Basil Oil  (recipe follows)

1. Preheat your oven to 450°F/230°C. Throw the halved tomatoes, tuna, capers, and kalamata olives in a big salad bowl. 

2. Tear the baguette into 1-inch/2.5 cm pieces (or thereabouts-you can slice them if you want them to be the same size, but I like to just tear it up, because it's easier), and toss them onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, along with the garlic. Drizzle a little olive oil on the croutons and garlic and toss it all around with your hands to make sure all of the croutons are covered in oil and the garlic is evenly distributed. Bake for 15-20 minutes, keeping a close eye on the little croutons, and flipping them over if needed, until they're crispy all the way through. 

3. Put the eggs in a small saucepan, cover with cold water, add a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. When the water boils, turn the heat down to a simmer and set the timer for 10 minutes. When the buzzer goes off, put the saucepan in the sink, run cold water over it, and take out your eggs. Peel and roughly chop them up. 

4. When you're ready to eat, add the chopped eggs to the big bowl, along with the cooled croutons, arugula, and basil. Add a couple of tablespoons of the basil oil on top, toss, and taste for seasonings. 

*This is the largest can of tuna in oil in France, which is what I use, but if you'd like more tuna in your salad, or if the tuna where you live comes in larger cans, anyway, just add more.

Advance Planning: You can make the croutons and boiled eggs ahead of time.
Swap It: Use leftover salmon instead of tuna.

Basil Oil
Makes about ½ cup/120 ml
15 large fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon of finely chopped shallot
1/2 cup /120 ml of olive oil
¼ teaspoon of lime or lemon zest
a pinch of sea salt and pepper

Put all of the ingredients in a small food processor and pulse until blended. Pour into an old jam jar and refrigerate for a half-hour, at least, before using. This'll keep for a few days in the fridge.
Cowgirl Tip: Fresh basil will keep for at least a week if you trim the stems and stuff it into a vase with fresh water, changing it every day or two, and trimming the ends each time.


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