I had a downward spiral at the supermarket today. No, I wasn’t depressed or anything, but it was one of those trips where I walked into Fresh & Easy starving and emerged with much more than I had anticipated to buy. I just wanted a few basics, but then I got to thinking that it might be a good idea to make some hummus. And then once I’d gathered some hummus fixings, I decided I’d try Ina Garten’s funky tuna salad and hummus sandwich. Next thing I knew, my basket was bubbling over with cornichons and celery, and my formerly brief and thrifty trip had turned into a $35 dollar affair.
I wanted to think this was money well spent, but as I stared at my $5 jar of gherkins, I couldn’t help but think I was going to use two or three and the rest of the pickles would go to waste. Had I just overindulged?
Well, I haven’t made the tuna and hummus sandwiches yet, but I have made the tuna salad. Results after the jump (the sandwiches will appear in a separate Adventure in Domesticity)…
Things start off with tuna in oil, which is not my first choice of canned tunas. However, for this first pass, I’ll be faithful to the directions. Well, semi-faithful. I wasn’t about to drop coin on the fancy Italian tuna that Ina enjoys. Instead, this Fresh & Easy option would have to do.
The enchantingly reserved tuna oil.
The tuna: three cans’ worth.
The product of my master flaking.
Some yellow onions enter the mix.
Behold the cornichons. I make a vow to snack on these little guys for hte next two weeks. I refuse to let this whole jar die in my fridge.
Nevertheless, two tablespoons of cornichons go in the bowl.
Lemon juice. Glorious lemon juice. Two tablespoons go in.
Two tablespoons of mayo (I used lite), a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, two tablespoons of the reserved oil, salt and pepper.
Mixy mixy. And voìla! We have tuna salad.
The Verdict: well, here’s the thing. Whenever I make tuna salad, I tend to keep it pretty basic. It’s just tuna, mayo, and whatever mix-ins I have available (scallions and dill usually). It’s how I’ve been making my tuna salad for years and years. I like my tuna salad creamy, not dry, and compared to what I usually make, this was on the dry side… and yet… it was DELICIOUS. Oh Ina, you tuna-salad-making minx. You have changed the rules of the game for me! Sure, this tuna salad wasn’t as “wet” as what I usually make, but the sheer amount of flavor really countered that. Plus, many of the ingredients — ie. the onion, the celery, the cornichons — actually released a good amount of moisture into each bite. The dryness was not even an issue.
More importantly, the flavors were just lovely. The tanginess of the lemon juice and dijon really brightened the salad, but honestly, it was the cornichons that truly elevated the dish — or TURNED UP THE VOLUME, as Ina might say. They brought a lovely, briny sourness to the salad (much as capers would), but unlike capers, they also added just a touch of sweetness too. My concerns about the cornichon jar went out the window as I knew that every tuna salad from here on out would involve them.
I should note that this salad took a bit more time to make than a typical one, but that’s also because it was my first time, and I was following the directions. Chances are this is something that can be eyeballed pretty easily.
Next up: pairing the tuna with the hummus for a sandwich! To the tuna-mobile!