Here in the northern-most South… summer is characterized by side dishes like coleslaw and potato salad, drenched in half a jar of mayonnaise, a hint of mustard, and a spoon of sugar.
I have never really cared for thick, creamy, dairy-rich, smothered, sugared, vegetables. Even in winter, I go with the ‘just enough to taste’ rule… (and forego the sugar all-together…)
I still like coleslaw, and potato salad in summer… at least in theory… but, it’s too dang hot for dairy, right?
So, I’ve worked out ways to avoid the use-by-date, dairy-heavy, will-curdle-in-hot-weather ingredients.
First, I gave you my secret Red Potato Caper Salad recipe.
I give you my light, Summer Tuna Pasta Salad. A great main dish to go with a side of steamed veggies, roasted summer veggies, or even a mixed green salad.
TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS:
Any brand, or type, of pasta or tuna works. Use your favorite.
My only suggestion is to go with the whole grain pasta. Yes. It has a few more carbs, but it ALSO has more protein, vitamins, minerals, and folate… AND FIBER than the ones made from refined flour. (Watch for added sugar, go with the LOWEST possible.)
DON’T LIKE WHOLE GRAIN PASTA? Well, make sure you try the following before deciding for sure…
If you find yourself not liking the taste, make sure to follow these rules… and allow your taste buds to adjust. Give it the toddler, five-times-eaten, rule before deciding if it is you, or the pasta.
- DO NOT OVERCOOK WHOLE GRAIN/WHEAT PASTA. If the directions say 9-11 minutes? Use the 9 minutes.
- STIR THE PASTA ONCE OR TWICE (GENTLY) DURING THE COOKING TIME. This helps to get the individual pieces to cook evenly and prevents sticking.
- DON’T USE MORE WATER THAN YOU NEED TO JUST COVER THE PASTA. I know, the directions say some craziness like “8 Quarts of Boiling Water” for 8 ounces of pasta. I don’t pretend to know why it works, but the pasta is less prone to ‘sogginess’ when you use less water. (Plus, why waste all that good water if you don’t have to?)
- SALT THE WATER. Or, make sure you add salt to the pasta during the cooking/prep time. A little goes a long way… and helps bring out the natural flavors.
- CHEAP PASTA? Good luck with that… I’m not a food snob, but I do know, from experience, you get what you pay for… Thankfully, it’s cool now to be whole grain, so the main market brands have some comparable to the name brands. If you get a bad batch? Or it’s your first foray into whole grain land and find you don’t like it? Try a different brand next time… Even still… 50 cents more, and I get more nutrition and better flavor? *yay* SOLD.**
- DRAIN THE PASTA IMMEDIATELY. For cold pasta salads, lightly rinse with cold water (don’t over-do it). For warm dishes, just drain well, and add back into the mix.
The winter creamy tuna casserole recipes call for yellows onions and celery. For summer, I like to use spring green onions, and grape tomatoes, along with the original celery (remember, leave the leaves!).
For the side dish, I found these “Easter Egg Radishes” and some mixed carrots.
I chopped them into bite sized pieces, rescued as many of the radish leaves as I could, and…
Tossed it all together (two spoon method) with a little olive oil.
Set it in the oven at 375 degrees (pre-heated), for about 20-25 minutes. And continued with the main dish prep.
While I waited for the water to boil, I chopped the celery, green onion, and tomatoes.
Once the water just started to boil, I added the pasta (about 10 ounces from a 14 ounce box). And, I sautéed the celery, onion, and tomatoes in a little olive oil, just until the tomatoes began to soften.
Add salt and pepper to taste (and to release the juices in the veggies)…
Add in the drained tuna fish, break up gently into the veggie mix.
Add in the drained al dente pasta, mix gently with 2 spoons, until evenly distributed.
Then, add my secret ingredient (and short cut):
My FAVORITE French Dressing. (Have a favorite vinaigrette? Use it… and yes, even the creamier Ranch dressings will work with this… just go easy with the dairy there kid. Less is more.)
Right about now, the roasted veggies should be done. *Yummy*
Pour it all into serving bowls… AND ENJOY! 🙂
As always, I hope this helps you be brave in the kitchen, try some new kind of radish you’ve never seen before… and brave the healthier, more nutritious, waters of the whole grain food section of your local grocery store.
**Remember, it’s not savings, if you end up adding it to your ass later. 😉 *hehe*