Tuna Salad Goes Green
What do you get when you have a greenhouse full of Swiss chard, a bumper crop of scallions in the garden, long days of hunger-inducing farm work, not much time to cook, and a really annoying heat wave? Three batches of this tasty tuna salad in the last ten days — and no sign of us tiring of it anytime soon.
I created this simple yet satisfying recipe last year for NPR's Kitchen Window but never shared it here, and now I know why — I was waiting until I made it even better. It seemed a little odd to apply my More, More, More motto to one of my own recipes, but in this case it worked beautifully. This new greener version is better looking, better for you, and even better tasting.
I've mentioned before that Swiss chard is one of my favorite vegetables. In fact, if I were allowed to grow only two things in my organic kitchen garden they would be tomatoes and Swiss chard. This nutrient-packed chameleon of the vegetable world comes in a variety of colors and is a superb, year-round stand-in for lettuce, spinach and celery. When the spinach is suffering from heatstroke or the lettuce is keeling over from frostbite, my hardy Swiss chard doesn't even flinch. It's also easy to grow from seed and does exceptionally well in containers. And if you grow your own Swiss chard, you'll be able to enjoy the young, tender leaves which are rarely available for sale.
Swiss chard is bursting with nutrients, including vitamins K, A, C and E, plus several B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron and dietary fiber. It's a good source of calcium and contains promising cancer-fighting properties. Throughout history, various parts of the plant have been used to treat everything from ulcers to dandruff.
But more importantly, it tastes delicious. Peak season in most areas is from June through October, though in milder climates you often can find interesting varieties of just-harvested bounty at farmers' markets from early spring until late fall. Look for crisp stalks with shiny, unblemished leaves.
Swiss Chard is the New (Gorgeous) Celery
One of the best things about Swiss chard is that it's actually two crops in one — the crunchy stalks can be chopped up and used in place of celery in many recipes, which is especially nice since conventionally grown celery ranks number four on the Environmental Working Group's list of most contaminated produce. Choose colorful varieties of Swiss chard such as Pink Lipstick, Canary Yellow, and Orange Fantasia and you'll have some of the prettiest 'celery' around.
Tuna salad is the kind of thing I like to keep on hand in the fridge for quick meals and easy snacks, especially during the summer months, and this twist on the old standby will tempt even the most overheated appetites. If you don't have any Swiss chard handy you could substitute another sturdy leafy green such as spinach, kale, cabbage, or even some finely chopped broccoli or kohlrabi leaves (talk about healthy) or collard greens. Lettuce wouldn't hold up, but a handful or two of arugula would add a snappy bite.
This is one of those recipes that adapts easily to whatever you have on hand, so don't be afraid to be creative. Any type of olives would work — cracked green, oil cured, even the plain old canned black ones. Chopped purple onion in place of the scallions would be very nice. Some red cabbage would be tasty, and I almost tossed a shredded carrot into the latest batch. After taking these photos I did stir in a few handfuls of drained and rinsed organic kidney beans, which added protein and fiber and made this salad even more of a meal.
Susan's Swiss Chard Tuna Salad
Serves 2 to 4
If you have a chance, mix up your tuna salad and let it sit in the refrigerator at least a few hours before serving; it'll be even tastier. You can put it on sandwiches, stuff it into pita pockets, spread it on crackers, or serve it on a bed of lettuce. You could make baby sandwiches on Carrot Herb Rolls, Italian Olive Cheek Rolls, or Savory Cheese & Scallion Scones, or use Swiss chard leaves in place of tortillas to make easy low-carb tuna wraps. I often eat it straight from the bowl with a fork. Feeding a crowd? Just double the recipe. As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients whenever you can.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (I like white balsamic)
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives (about 10 olives)
2 teaspoons brine from the olives (or more balsamic vinegar)
2 6-ounce cans tuna (oil or water packed), drained
3/4 cups chopped Swiss chard stems
2 to 3 cups chopped Swiss chard leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh parsley, preferably Italian flat leaf
1 cup (or more) chopped scallions (green onions), white and green parts (about 10 small)
Salt & pepper to taste
Few handfuls of canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Combine mayonnaise, dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar and olive brine in a medium bowl and mix well. Stir in olives, tuna, chopped Swiss chard stems and leaves, parsley, and scallions. Add salt and pepper to taste and more mayonnaise and/or vinegar if desired. Stir in kidney beans if using. Tuna salad will keep for three days in the refrigerator.
How To Grow Swiss Chard from Seed & Why You Should
Recipe: Hot Swiss Chard Artichoke Dip (and lots of other ways to use Swiss Chard)
Grow Arugula — Seed to Salad Bowl in Less than a Month
How To Grow Your Own Gourmet Lettuce from Seed
What To Do With 125 Scallions
To go with your tuna salad:
Four Hour Parisian Daily Baguettes
Beyond Easy Beer Bread
Oatmeal Toasting Bread
Savory Cheese & Scallion Scones
Carrot Herb Rolls (and a bargain bread book for beginners)
Italian Olive Cheek Rolls
How To Make Your Own Pita Bread & Pita Chips
Other Farmgirl Fare recipes you might enjoy:
Sour Cream & Onion Dip (and foodie travel)
Fiesta Cottage Cheese Veggie Dip (and factory tours)
Mexican Jumping Bean Slaw & Quick Vegetarian Tacos
Colors of Summer Salad
Summer in a Bowl
The Easiest Greek Salad Ever
You'll find links to all my sweet & savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the sidebar of the Farmgirl Fare homepage under Previous Posts: Food Stuff W/ Recipes. Enjoy!
© Copyright 2008 FarmgirlFare.com, the award-winning blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, & photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres — and we feast on homegrown Swiss chard almost year round.