Even my mum is getting involved in my summer of community posts! She’s not actually part of the Facebook community though (she’s too hip to use Facebook, she prefers Twitter!) but she’s taught me waaaay more about cooking than GCSE home economics ever did so she definitely gets to be an honorary member. She won’t admit it but my mum is an amazing cook. She can turn the most random collection of ingredients into something delicious, usually within 30 minutes of coming in from a day of gardening.
I’ve eaten this salad many, many times and despite my renowned childhood pickiness I seem to remember always enjoying it (although my portion certainly wouldn’t have had mushrooms in it!). These days I’m not much of one for tinned tuna but the idea of this salad topped with a very rare tuna steak, just off the barbecue makes me very hungry!
In the warm summer months when we don’t want to shop, cook or spend time in the kitchen this is the perfect ‘no cook, use up left-overs, eat with just a fork and hardly any washing-up’ dish for lunch or supper. It was on the menu of a friends coffee shop, in Cornwall, in the 60’s/70’s, we ate it for lunch there just before popping around the corner to get married! It was often on my own menu just after we were married as it was cheap, easy and quick – as well as tasty.
I will give the original version but it is easy to substitute other things and there is such a wealth of interesting and exotic fruit and veg around these days it would be hard not to play around with flavour combinations. The main thing to remember is use no more than 8 ingredients and keep them in pairs that go together well. So instead of apple and cheddar cheese you might opt for pear and blue cheese. How about Pomegranate seeds and feta, grapes and walnuts or shaved Italian ham at the bottom and include black olives, parmesan shavings, basil and croutons. Change what’s at the bottom (and think up a new name!), perhaps diced chicken or ham, maybe flaked salmon or prawns or just an interesting vegetarian surprise – how about diced avocado, mixed with a little finely chopped chilli and sour cream. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination – and what’s in your fridge!
This is enough for two large bowls as a main course or four small ones as a simple starter
160g tinned tuna in oil, drained (save the oil) and lightly flaked
1 medium apple (about 100 g)
100g mature cheddar
50g salted roasted peanuts
50g raisins or sultanas
60g firm white mushrooms
60g onion (any type) or shallots
Freshly ground black pepper and your choice of chopped herbs
Dice the cheese, apple, cucumber, mushrooms and tomatoes into cubes of about 1 cm.
Finely chop the onion/shallot, place everything except the tuna into a mixing bowl and combine. Add the oil which you saved from the tuna, freshly ground black pepper and herbs. Season with salt if needed but remember the peanuts are salty. Put the tuna into the bottom of your serving bowls and divide the salad mixture over the top. Finish with an extra grind of black pepper and a sprinkle of chopped herbs. Perhaps serve with good fresh crusty bread and butter.
In the early 70’s we always ate this with Heinz Salad Cream, mayonnaise being only for the rich or people who ate out, but in these days of vast choice all sorts of dressings could be used to suit the ingredients you have used. Use your leftovers – use your imagination!