The Edmond Sun

Food

July 6, 2012

Tuna, a pantry staple, is a workhorse in the kitchen

WIRE — Don’t knock canned tuna.

It’s rivaled in its versatility only by its price. A 5-ounce tin serves two — just add mayonnaise and bread — for about a buck.

“Water-packed tuna is low in fat and calories,” said Marla Nawrocki, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation in Modesto, Calif. “It is also high in protein and contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.”

A 2-ounce serving, about 1/4 cup drained, of water-packed tuna has 10 grams of protein, 50 calories and 1 gram of fat.

Processed tuna is the ultimate in convenience food. Open a pouch and eat or, with a little more effort, turn it into a sandwich for lunch. Tuna also can take a starring role at dinner — and with not much more effort than making a sandwich.

For tuna and chips casserole, empty a 10 1/2-ounce can of cream of mushroom soup into a 1-quart casserole dish. Mix in 1/2 cup milk. Drain a can of tuna and add it to the soup along with 1 cup crushed potato chips and 1 cup cooked green peas. Sprinkle top with 1/4 cup crushed potato chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Spaghetti with tuna is just as easy. Brown garlic in olive oil, add 2 1/2 ounces canned tuna in oil, 3 tablespoons tomato paste and a tablespoon or two of water. Cook for 15 minutes. Add parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss with cooked spaghetti. Come and get it. It’s dinnertime already.

There’s no doubt tuna works hard, but it can do more. Try tuna burgers, tuna on salad greens, tuna in a bean salad with onions. The list goes on.

A quiet revolution in canned tuna means it’s time to stop turning up your nose at this pantry workhorse.

“Most large seafood producers cook their fish twice,” according to America’s Test Kitchen, which sampled eight brands of canned solid white albacore packed in water. The tuna is cooked once before it’s canned, and then again when it’s heated inside the can to kill harmful bacteria. Some of the lesser-known brands cook the tuna just once, “which preserves its fresh flavor and texture.” The findings are summarized in “Pasta Revolution: 200 Foolproof Recipes That Go Beyond Spaghetti and Meatballs” (America’s Test Kitchen, $26.95).

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