Monday, March 9, 2015

Fiesta Tuna Salad

Cooking using items already in your refrigerator helps reduce food waste and stretches your weekly food budget. I still had about two-thirds of a head of romaine lettuce and seven multi-color sweet bell peppers left from last week's vegetable purchases (see my Tempe Frugal Life post for Monday, March 2, 2015), so I decided to use them in this week's Fiesta Tuna Salad.

Tuna can be a real budget buster depending on the brand and quality. Most standard-size tuna cans contain just 5.5 ounces of tuna, along with the water or oil in which the tuna was packed. At up to 1.25 per can, you pay as much as $3.75 a pound for tuna of sometimes dubious quality. I discovered four-pound cans of tuna at Smart-N-Final, and was so pleased with the quality that I now buy my tuna there any time I want some.

Their lower-priced tuna is pink and flavorful, with medium-sized chunks through tiny flakes, and costs just under $9 per can. The slightly pricier white tuna comes in the form of tuna steaks: fist-sized chunks of albacore that fall into palm-sized flakes about 1/8 inch thick, about the size and thickness of large artichoke leaves. The albacore costs just under $14 per four-pound can.

I used about one-third of a can in my fiesta tuna salad, reserving the other two-thirds of the can in two equal-sized portions that I put into small containers in the freezer for use on another day. I cut the tops off the peppers and cored them with a steak knife before cutting them into rings. The serrated edge on the steak knife allowed me to cut the peppers without squashing and breaking them, resulting in a more attractive appearance in the salad.

Using my largest covered mixing bowl, I added the tuna, 15 ounces of mixed canned peas and carrots, seven multicolored baby bell peppers cut into rings, two cups of chopped romaine lettuce, 1/2 cup of minced yellow onion, 1/4 cup of minced homemade dill refrigerator pickles, the juice of one large lemon, three tablespoons of Valentina hot sauce, and 16 ounces of French onion dip. I used a fork to blend everything together before placing the mixture in the refrigerator to chill and to allow all the flavors to meld together.

1.5 pounds canned tuna
7 multicolor baby bell peppers, cored and cut into rings
1 can (14.5 to 16 ounces) of mixed peas and carrots
2 cups rinsed, drained and chopped romaine lettuce
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
1/4 cup minced homemade dill refrigerator pickles
3 TBSP Valentina hot sauce
1 lemon, sliced and squeezed, seeds removed
16 ounces French onion dip

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