Hot Weather Meal: White Bean Tuna Salad

I hate to admit it, but San Diego has made me soft. I grew up in New Hampshire enduring weather from opposite ends of the spectrum — from negative temperatures and feet of snow to hot, humid, 100-degree summers to rain, sleet, hail, ice…you name it. But now living in San Diego, I like my perfect 70-75 degree weather quite a lot, thankyouverymuch, and after a week or so of 85-90 degree days, I’ve had it! I’m melting here! (Disclaimer: I don’t have air conditioning in my house and I normally don’t need it — it’s just a few times a year when it’s painful. This is one of those times.) I spent today searching for coffee shops with air conditioning where I could hang out and not be sweating.

The first thing I did when I sat down in said coffee shop? Google search for hot weather meals. I just couldn’t imagine the thought of turning on my oven — or my stove for that matter — and making my little house any hotter than it is already. And I found a great little recipe that made me very happy: White Bean Tuna Salad by Giada. Not only did I not have to cook — I barely had to do anything! It was super easy and really tasty and flavorful as well.

The trick to this is making sure you use chunk light tuna packed in oil — NOT water. It makes the tuna more moist and you get lots of flavor in the oil, which Giada uses as the base for the dressing. Mix the tuna in with canned white beans (easy!), grape tomatoes, capers, some red onion, salt and pepper, and dress with oil/red wine vinegar, throw it on some arugula and you’re good to go! I ate this outside at my table tonight.

TW’s Tips

  • Use oil-packed tuna, not water-packed.
  • I would consider cutting the tomatoes in half. She doesn’t call for it, but it would spread the tomato out so you get some in each bite.
  • I’m not a big red onion fan so I used a small shallot, which is more mild, and it was delicious.
  • The dressing made a lot, so I ended up draining some off at the end. Maybe cut it by 1/3.

Enjoy, and stay cool!

White Bean Tuna Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 (6-ounce) cans dark meat tuna, packed in olive oil
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans cannelini white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup small capers, nonpareil in brine, drained and rinsed
  • 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cups fresh arugula
  • 6 fresh basil leaves

Directions

In a large bowl, add the tuna, reserving the olive oil in a separate small bowl. Break tuna into bite-size pieces with a large fork. Add the beans and capers. Into the bowl of olive oil, add the red wine vinegar. You should have 1 part vinegar to 2 parts oil – add more extra-virgin olive oil if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Pour dressing on the tuna, bean and caper mixture and allow the flavors to infuse while slicing the vegetables. Add the onion and tomatoes to tuna mixture and toss gently.

Place the arugula on a large decorative platter and top with tuna mixture. Tear fresh basil leaves over the top and serve immediately.

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Chutney and Cheddar-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Oh yeah — recipe success! I made this delicious meal — Chutney and Cheddar-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with BLTPs (Bacon Leek Tomato Potatoes) — for dinner Wednesday night.

The recipe is from Rachael Ray’s “Big Orange Book.” I am a BIG Rachael Ray fan. Not so much of her as a person (she can be a little much, and her cooking show is annoying), but I’m a fan of her cookbooks (I have pretty much every single one) and her easy, reliable, yummy recipes. I’m a champ at following a recipe and she makes it pretty fool-proof.

TW’s tips for this recipe:

  • I used multicolored potatoes to give the BLTPs a bit more color.
  • I omitted chicken stock, which she called for as a finishing touch to the potatoes. I didn’t want to lose the crispy finish on the potatoes and felt like it would turn the whole dish into mush. So I took that part out of the recipe below.
  • I used mango chutney because I had some in the fridge, but I’d love to hear how this is with another kind!
  • I used top notch extra sharp Cabot cheddar — it makes all the difference. The sharpness of the cheese and the sweetness of the chutney, combined with the nice brown crust on the chicken was killer!
  • I cooked this on a night when it was way too hot to use the oven. Don’t do that. I hated myself. But I was much happier once I ate this meal.

Chutney and Cheddar-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with BLTPs (Bacon Leek Tomato Potatoes)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds red bliss, fingerling or baby Yukon gold potatoes, skin left on
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus additional
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons prepared chutney
  • 8 slices sharp white cheddar
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Place potatoes onto a baking sheet, drizzle them with a little EVOO and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss them to evenly coat and move them to one half your baking sheet. Roast them for 20 minutes, turning occasionally.

After 20 minutes, toss the tomatoes onto the empty half of the baking sheet, drizzle them with a little EVOO and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Return the pan to the oven and continue roasting another 20 minutes, turning the veggies occasionally but keeping them separate, until the potatoes are tender and the tomatoes have burst open.

Once the tomatoes go into the oven, place the chicken breasts onto a cutting board and cut a pocket into one side of each of them using a paring knife. Spread about 1 tablespoon of chutney and place 2 slices of cheddar inside the pocket of each. Season the outside of each breast with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat with 1 turn of the pan of EVOO, about 1 tablespoon, and sear the chicken breasts in the large pan until golden brown, 3-4 minutes per side.

Once the chicken is seared on both sides, transfer them to the oven to finish cooking, about 5-6 minutes (if your pan is oven-safe, just put the whole pan in the oven. Otherwise put the meat onto a baking sheet before moving it to the oven).

Once the chicken goes into the oven, place another large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the bacon and cook, about 2-3 minutes. Once the bacon starts to brown, add the leeks and cook until tender, another 4-5 minutes.

When the vegetables have finished roasting, transfer them to the skillet with the bacon and leeks. Season everything with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve up the cooked chicken breasts with a scoop of BLTPs alongside.