The Busy Cooks 'Start With...' series continues, this week focusing on canned tuna. Almost everyone has memories of tuna casseroles and tuna sandwiches when they were little. These updated best canned tuna recipes put a little twist on old favorites, adding interest and nutrition.
Do you know what the words mean on the tuna cans that you buy? Tuna comes in three forms: solid pack or fancy, chunk, and flaked or grated. Solid pack is the most expensive, and contains large chunks of meat. Chunk tuna has smaller pieces and is less expensive. And I don't recommend flaked or grated at all; the tuna is very mushy, from less desirable cuts. There are also different varieties of tuna to consider.
This is the most expensive tuna. Canned tuna made from albacore is labeled 'white'. It has the mildest flavor and is easily substituted for canned chicken in most recipes.
This type of tuna and other varieties are labeled 'light' on cans. It has a slightly stronger flavor than albacore. 'Light' tuna can contain several different varieties of tuna.
This tuna has the strongest flavor and highest fat content. This tuna is usually sold canned. If the can you're purchasing doesn't say 'white' or 'light', it's probably bonita or skipjack tuna.
There are some brand new varieties of 'canned' tuna. Sealed, shelf-stable pouches of tuna are a recent addition to the market. The flesh is packed with no water or oil, and is processed for a shorter period of time, resulting in a fresher flavor. There are several different flavors of this tuna to choose from, accented with herbs and spices. While researching this article, I found smoked tuna slices. This sophisticated product is wonderful used for recipes like tuna sandwiches and salads.
Tuna is packed in water or oil. Tuna packed in olive oil has a fabulous flavor, and when well-drained, doesn't have that many more calories than tuna packed in water. It's difficult to find, though, and tuna packed in water is just fine in these recipes. Tuna packed in vegetable oil really has no additional flavor, and in my opinion isn't worth the extra calories.
Finally, make sure that the tuna you purchase is labeled 'dolphin-safe'. Several organizations, along with the U.S. government, have instituted monitoring programs to help protect these mammals. Some companies have pledged to continue 'dolphin-safe' fishing practices even if U.S. standards are weakened, which they may be.
Recently there have been media reports about mercury content in fatty fish, like tuna and especially salmon. Some governments recommend that you limit your tuna consumption to two cans a week. One study found that 'light' tuna has less mercury than 'white'. Think about all of these things when you purchase tuna for your family.
Tuna is considered a heart-healthy food since it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It is low in fat and carbohydrates and high in protein. It combines beautifully with most flavors, from capers and onions to honeydew melon. Best of all, most kids like tuna! Try some of these tuna recipes this week.
I'd recommend solid pack or chunk tuna for these recipes (except for those calling for sliced smoked tuna). Read the labels, and also keep an eye out for canned or vacuum-packed tuna on sale. Canned tuna, properly stored, will last for a year in your pantry. And you'll always have ingredients for an easy meal on hand!
Best Canned Tuna Recipes
I love this recipe. Tuna is mixed with white beans and vegetables, then served on a chewy boboli crust. It's super easy and very delicious.
Tuna and Spinach Risotto
Risotto is such a wonderful dish. The creamy rice, when combined with savory tuna,lemon, and fresh spinach, makes a great easy dinner.
Purchase the highest quality of tuna for this recipe, preferably one packed in olive oil. If you can only find tuna in water, add three to four tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil to this dish.
Tuna Alfredo Casserole
This five ingredient recipe is super fast! You can add frozen vegetables, thawed and drained, to this basic recipe for more flavor and nutrition.
Tuna Rolls with Peanut Sauce
Rice paper wrappers hold a fresh and spicy tuna and vegetable mixture. Serve it with peanut sauce for a taste of Thailand.
Microwave Tuna Au Gratin
Potatoes, carrots, and green onions are cooked in the microwave until tender, then combined with tuna and cheese. This is updated comfort food!
Tuna Waldorf Salad
This simple salad plays off the classic Waldorf Salad, but uses tuna instead of chicken so it's less expensive. You'll love this fresh and light salad.
Tuna Fruit Salad
The sweet and tangy flavor of fresh fruit complements tuna beautifully. Use the best fresh fruits available in your area in this light and easy recipe.
Parmesan Tuna Sandwiches
There's something about the combination of tuna with Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, and red bell pepper. If you like your food spicy, think about adding chopped jalapeno to this easy sandwich spread.
Tuna Melts for a Crowd
One of the problems serving hot sandwiches is having to cook them one or two at a time. This recipe lets you cook six sandwiches at once.
Crisp Tuna Salad
I loved canned potato sticks as a child, and I still love 'em! They add great crunch and flavor to this simple tuna salad.
Grilled Tuna Melts
This George Foreman Grill recipe is simple and classic; a tuna sandwich at its best!
Carbonara is a combination of spaghetti, eggs, and olive oil. This easy recipe adds tuna and some chopped vegetables for a great main dish.
When you need lunch on the table in a hurry, turn to this easy recipe. It's creamy, smooth, and delicious.
Talk about back to the future! Tuna croquettes is a 1950s throwback that I believe everyone should eat at least once in their lives.
This classic French salad is a great warm-weather meal that starts with ingredients from your deli.