Paleo Tuna Salad in Avocado Cups

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One of the first things I really learned to “make” on my own was my dad’s tuna salad. I distinctly remember living in my own apartment with my own kitchen for the first time and thinking that I could make anything, ANYTHING! So I made tuna salad. Anti-climatic, huh? Still, sometimes these baby steps are the sort of affirmation you need to feel confident doing more complicated things (see: pasta. What? It was college after all).  I remember calling my dad up and asking him what he put in it. His answer was simple: sweet relish, tuna, mayonnaise, hard boiled eggs, and seasonings.  Sometimes, he said, he’ll serve it  inside half an avocado. You know, because avocado makes everything taste better.

Easy enough and delicious in its simplicity, I made a lot of tuna salad over my college years, and sometimes, when I’m feeling nostalgic, I still pull out dad’s old recipe. I even bought sugar-free sweet relish one time (do not recommend), before foregoing the relish altogether, just to try to “healthify” the recipe some more. I also, over time, started to add some veggies into the mix so that it would be a more complete meal of protein and carbs. Sometimes I add the hard-boiled egg, but most times I can’t be bothered to wait long enough to make it. To me, tuna salad had always been and should always be one of those standing over the counter and throwing things together kind of meals. Hard-boiling an egg? You gotta plan that, brah.

Which brings me to my Whole30. This week for some strange reason has turned out to be a week of throwing random things together at the last-minute recipes. Once I was in this mindset, dad’s tuna salad jumped up from the well of my memory and was like, hi! I’m perfect for this! So, I set out to make a Whole30 compliant tuna salad with a homemade mayonnaise. Mostly because I wanted something in an avocado cup.

Paleo Tuna Salad in Avocado Cup
Paleo mayonnaise inspired by The Paleo Kitchen
Serves 6

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Ingredients:

1 large pastured egg
3/4 cup olive oil or other oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp kosher salt
2 7-oz cans albacore tuna
3 celery stalks, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise and diced small
1/3 cup red onion, diced small
3 tbsps fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 avocados, cut in half around the seed and pitted

Directions:

1. Add the egg, olive oil, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and 1/8 tsp salt to a medium container (I used the container that came with my immersion blender). Place the blender in the bottom of the cup, then turn it on high-speed and blend until the bottom begins to turn white and frothy. Then, slowly lift the immersion blender blade up through the rest of the mixture so that the oil mixes in well. Once everything is mixed in, which should take no longer than 30 seconds, turn off the blender. Pour the mayonnaise into a mason jar or other airtight container for storage, but reserve 1/3 cup for the tuna salad.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, use a fork to break the tuna up into small pieces. Once small, add the celery, the onion, the parsley, the reserved 1/3 cup of mayonnaise, the garlic powder, and salt and pepper.

3. Mix until everything is well-distributed and the mayonnaise coats the fish. Feel free to add more mayo if you like a creamier tuna salad.
IMG_86204. On a small plate, put down one half of the avocado and then use a spoon to top with the tuna salad. . Garnish with extra parsley and serve!
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Fig and Prosciutto Salad

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For someone who, not long ago, would gag at the suggestion of a salad for dinner, it’s slightly unsettling that this has been the Summer of Salads. In just a few short months, I’ve brought you a tuscan kale salad, a cucumber caprese salad, and a watermelon mint steak salad. And just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be any more salads up my sleeve? I bring you this: a blue-cheese-stuffed and prosciutto-wrapped fig salad. If you think that sounds pretty fancy for a salad, it is. But whoever said salads had to be boring?

I’d been on the lookout for figs at the farmer’s market for months now. I remember one time in May, I thought I’d seen figs in the Central Market flyer, so I went determinedly to go find some. After painstakingly browsing each fruit bin, Mr. Little Fish decided to just ask a worker where we could find them. “See those bins with the bananas? Right next to them.”  Yes! I thought, as I quickly shuffled between the crowd to get to them. Alas, upon arrival, only lowly dates sat in their place. Of course, when we went to ask again, employee-man said he thought we’d said dates, but figs, well, they didn’t have any. Sigh.

So, I waited, drooling over the fig pictures that kept popping up on my instagram. I had never even tried fresh figs before, only dried, but I had convinced myself they would be my new favorite thing. So, I went to the farmer’s market every weekend, crossing my fingers that this would be the time. Once, I happened across Confituras (find them on instagram!), a local small-batch jam maker, at the farmer’s market and bought some of her sugar fig jam, which was so good that I temporarily forgot about The Search for Figs.

But then, one Saturday, my friend M realized that she had weekends to herself again, so we decided to celebrate. I suggested going to the lobster roll truck at the farmer’s market, because when else is a great time to buy a $16 sandwich than when you’re feeling celebratory? So, off we went, with butter lobster rolls on our minds, and all thoughts of figs forgotten. But lo and behold, at the tiniest table in the whole market: baskets and baskets of fresh figs. Despite the odd looks I was getting from my friend M, I couldn’t contain my joy. I strolled right up to the vendor, said “that one!” while assertively pointing at the cute container on the corner, and handed over the cash. I was a woman on a mission. Feeling giddy with accomplishment, I asked the vendor was his favorite way to eat the figs was, and he suggested wrapping them in prosciutto and grilling them. PURE GOLD, I thought.

The idea went even further when, two stalls down, I happened across my favorite goat-cheese maker, CKC Farms. The enabler than I am, I convinced my friend M to try their plain goat cheese while I sampled there baby blue. Although I’m not typically a fan of blue cheese, I loved this one! It was very silky and smooth and had that lovely creaminess that goat cheese has. Remembering my plan for the figs, I declared that before wrapping them in prosciutto, I would first stuff them with this cheese. Meanwhile, my friend M shot darts at me with her eyes as she handed over the cash for the goat cheese she couldn’t stop herself from buying. =)

Thus, this salad was born on a weeknight after work two nights later. I paired it simply with a bed of arugula, some walnuts sprinkled over the top, and with a dash of balsamic vinegar. You can add whatever you’d like to it. You could even go fancier by reducing the balsamic vinegar with some honey until it’s a lovely, sweet syrup.  If you’re not a fan of blue cheese, this would work just as well stuffed with regular old goat cheese or, if you’re dairy-free, no cheese at all. Also, I ate this as a meal itself, but it would definitely make a great side for a steak on a date night (you’re welcome. 😉 !

Fig and Prosciutto Salad
Serves 2

IMG_7881Ingredients:

1 pint fresh figs, gently washed and dried
3 oz prosciutto
1 small package baby blue goat cheese
4 cups baby arugula
1-2 tbsps walnuts
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp bacon fat or butter, for grilling

Directions:

1.  Using a sharp knife, delicately cut each of the figs in half. If they are very ripe, they will be a little mushy and you don’t wanna squish them too much.
IMG_78852.  Use a spoon to put a tiny bit of blue cheese in the center of each fig half. The amount should be proportional to the size of the fig and to your own personal preference.
IMG_78873.  Then, since my figs were quite small, I tore each piece of prosciutto into threes and carefully wrapped each third around one fig half. Make sure to wrap it fairly tightly so that the fig stays in the prosciutto when frying.
IMG_78884. Heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat, and add the fat. Once the fat is melted and/or started to lightly smoke, use tongs to place each fig half in a circle lining the outside of the pan and work clockwise until you get to the center. This will help you remember which figs hit the heat first, so you’ll follow the same pattern when it comes time to flip. Let sit for 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned. Use tongs to flip each fig over, and allow to sit another 2-3 minutes, until desired brownness. Remove from plate and turn off the heat.
IMG_78905. On a separate plate, put down about 2 cups of the arugula. Top with 4-5 figs, a tablespoon of walnuts, and more blue cheese crumbles, and drizzle about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar over it. Enjoy!
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Grilled Fig and Prosciutto Salad
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 pint fresh figs, gently washed and dried
  • 3 oz prosciutto
  • 1 small package baby blue goat cheese
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 1-2 tbsps walnuts
  • 2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp bacon fat or butter, for grilling
Directions
  1. Using a sharp knife, delicately cut each of the figs in half. If they are very ripe, they will be a little mushy and you don't wanna squish them too much.
  2. Use a spoon to put a tiny bit of blue cheese in the center of each fig half. The amount should be proportional to the size of the fig and to your own personal preference.
  3. Then, since my figs were quite small, I tore each piece of prosciutto into threes and carefully wrapped each third around one fig half. Make sure to wrap it fairly tightly so that the fig stays in the prosciutto when frying.
  4. Heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat, and add the fat. Once the fat is melted and/or started to lightly smoke, use tongs to place each fig half in a circle lining the outside of the pan and work clockwise until you get to the center. This will help you remember which figs hit the heat first, so you'll follow the same pattern when it comes time to flip. Let sit for 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned. Use tongs to flip each fig over, and allow to sit another 2-3 minutes, until desired brownness. Remove from plate and turn off the heat.
  5. On a separate plate, put down about 2 cups of the arugula. Top with 4-5 figs, a tablespoon of walnuts, and more blue cheese crumbles, and drizzle about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar over it. Enjoy!

Hatch Chili Sausage Saute

Those of you who follow me on instagram (if you don’t, you should! Check out the pictures on the sidebar to see why! @gwensfishfood) might already have been indirectly introduced to my latest obsession:

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It was Hatch Chili Fest at HEB last week, and I happened to go grocery shopping on the first day of it (totally just on accident, yup), which meant:

X ALL THE THINGS - Sample All of the things!

They had Hatch chili bread, hatch chili enchilada sauce, hatch chili salmon, hatch chili guacamole….seriously you name it, they had it. My favorites were these hatch chili and cheese sausages and, of course, this jalapeno hatch chili jam. At the store, it was served on top of cream cheese for a dip (yum!), and also served as a topping for the sausage. (Unexpected bonus: the sample ladies were feeling extra generous, so I got nearly an entire sausage as a “sample” and a whole quarter of a turkey burger.)

So, naturally, I bought both the sausage and the jam (and this hatch bean dip that was ah-mazing). I still had a bunch of kale leftover from making this kale salad on repeat for about 2 weeks, so the next morning, before work no less, when I realized I didn’t have leftovers for lunch (see: eating too many samples and not being hungry for dinner the night before), I threw together a quick sort-of stir fry. The kale worked out perfectly because it was able to withstand the heat of the sautéed sausage and onion and was just perfectly wilted by the time I ate lunch. But, since then, I’ve thrown this same stir fry on spinach and arugula and both were delicious. And, like any stir fry, you can mix and match the veggies to suit whatever you have on hand! If I add other veggies, I usually saute the onion for a little while by itself, and then I’ve thrown in things like broccoli and mushrooms for extra flavor. The nice thing about this is that, once you add the hatch jam, the sugar in it helps everything caramelize. The other nice thing is that it takes all of 10 minutes! Happy hatch season to you!

Hatch Chili Sausage Saute
Serves 1
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Ingredients:

1 hatch chili and cheese sausage link (or any other sausage), sliced into thin rounds
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
2 cups chopped kale, thick stems removed, or other leafy green
1 tbsp Jalapeno Hatch Chili jam
1/2 tbsp fat, such as butter or coconut oil, for sauteing
Optional: other veggies for you stir fry, e.g. broccoli or mushrooms

Directions:

1.  In a large skillet, melt your fat over medium heat. Once melted, add the sliced onions to the pan, and cook for about 3-5 minutes until softened. Make sure to push it around with your spatula so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. NOTE: if you plan on adding other veggies, here is where you would add them.
IMG_78142.  Add the sliced sausage to the pan, and again push it around so it doesn’t stick (think stir-fry technique). Cook until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes.
IMG_78173. Add the tablespoon of hatch jam, and stir well to coat the veggies and sausage.
IMG_78194. Put the kale in a bowl or large plate, as a bed. Pour the sausage and veggie mixture over the kale. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes so the kale wilts, and then serve!
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Hatch Chili Sausage Saute
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 hatch chili and cheese sausage link (or any other sausage), sliced into thin rounds
  • ½ red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups chopped kale, thick stems removed, or other leafy green
  • 1 tbsp Jalapeno Hatch Chili jam
  • ½ tbsp fat, such as butter or coconut oil, for sauteing
  • Optional: other veggies for you stir fry, e.g. broccoli or mushrooms
Directions
  1. In a large skillet, melt your fat over medium heat. Once melted, add the sliced onions to the pan, and cook for about 3-5 minutes until softened. Make sure to push it around with your spatula so it doesn't stick to the bottom. NOTE: if you plan on adding other veggies, here is where you would add them.
  2. Add the sliced sausage to the pan, and again push it around so it doesn't stick (think stir-fry technique). Cook until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the tablespoon of hatch jam, and stir well to coat the veggies and sausage.
  4. Put the kale in a bowl or large plate, as a bed. Pour the sausage and veggie mixture over the kale. Allow to sit for a couple minutes so the kale wilts, and then serve!

Cucumber Caprese Salad

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It turns out that Mr. Little Fish has quite the green thumb. I don’t remember exactly what prompted us to decide to start our own garden, but one day, Mr. LF just commandeered some of the planters on the property, got rid of all the dead plants that the HOA wasn’t taking care of, sifted through all the dirt using a sifter he built, and planted some seeds. 6 weeks later, the garden looked like this:

Processed with VSCOcam

From front to back, that’s red onion, carrot, a huge bunch of beets, some dill and cilantro that you can’t see and are taking their sweet time, an even huger bunch of basil, tomatoes, and sweet peppers way in the back. We’ve actually been able to harvest the beets already! We’ve also commandeered a second planter, which is now home to more tomatoes, zucchini, and some more peppers. It’s so amazing to watch these things grow from these tiny little nothings into edible and delicious and nutritious vegetables.

As you can see from the picture, though, the basil plant is the most bountiful. Seriously, I try to use it as much as I can (see: this tomato basil soup we make once every couple weeks or this spaghetti sauce that I subbed in fresh basil for), but the plant just grows so darn fast that I can’t keep up. That doesn’t mean I’m not trying my hardest though!

Enter: this cucumber caprese salad. I originally got the idea to add cucumber to a traditional caprese salad from the Comfort of Cooking‘s site. I love caprese salads, and I love cucumber, so when I saw her chopped salad, I knew I had to try it.  But, thinking that I wanted to use even more basil, I decided instead to make a pesto sauce to toss the salad with! And instead of all chopped, I used my spiralizer to make easy-to-eat cucumber “fettuchini” noodles. While the addition of mozzarella makes this not paleo, the pesto itself is, so you could easily omit the mozzarella if you want to do paleo or just generally want to do dairy-free. If you don’t have a spiralizer, feel free to use either a Julienne peeler or just chop the cucumber into small pieces.  You’ll only end up using about half the pesto sauce in the recipe below, but you can easily double the salad ingredients if you are serving more than 2 people, or you can do as I do, and toss the rest on pretty much anything! I used the leftover pesto in an italian chicken and peach pesto salad that was really delicious!

Cucumber Caprese Salad
Serves 2

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Ingredients: 

For the pesto:
1 cup basil, medium tightly packed
3 tbsp pine nuts
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Juice of half a lemon

For the salad:
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 medium cucumber
1/2 cup small fresh mozzarella balls or torn mozzarella pieces

Directions:

1. In a small chopper or a food processor, combine all of the pesto ingredients. I have this convenient little chopper Mr. Little Fish bought from amazon that also doubles as a storage container! Definitely requires that you put a little muscle into it though! Whatever method you use, blend until you have a chunky pesto sauce. Cover the sauce, and set it in the fridge.

2. Use the flat blade on your spiralizer to spiralize the cucumber into a bowl with a lid. The flat blade will give you flat, fettuchini-like noodles (Again, if you don’t have a spiralizer, feel free to use either a Julienne peeler or just chop the cumber into bite sized pieces!). Don’t forget to use your hands or a kitchen shears to cut the noodles into manageable pieces!

3. Lay 2 layers of paper towels onto your cutting board, and pour the spiralized cucumber onto the paper towels, spreading the noodles out. Take another 2-3 layers of paper towels, put them on top of the noodles, and then put your back into pressing the water out of the noodles. This step is important for keeping the pesto from getting too watery once it’s added to the salad. You want your pesto to stick to the noodles!

4. Add the cucumber back to the bowl. Add the cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pieces…..
IMG_7734and about half of the pesto mixture.
IMG_77395. Put the lid on the bowl, and then shake until the pasta is well-coated!
IMG_77416. Enjoy!
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Cucumber Caprese Salad
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • For the pesto:
  • 1 cup basil, medium tightly packed
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • For the salad
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • ½ cup small fresh mozzarella balls or torn mozzarella pieces
Directions
  1. In a small chopper or a food processor, combine all of the pesto ingredients. I have this convenient little chopper Mr. Little Fish bought from amazon that also doubles as a storage container! Definitely requires that you put a little muscle into it though! Whatever method you use, blend until you have a chunky pesto sauce. Cover the sauce, and set it in the fridge.
  2. Use the flat blade on your spiralizer to spiralize the cucumber into a bowl with a lid. The flat blade will give you flat, fettuchini-like noodles. Don't forget to use your hands or a kitchen shears to cut the noodles into manageable pieces!
  3. Lay 2 layers of paper towels onto your cutting board, and pour the spiralized cucumber onto the paper towels, spreading the noodles out. Take another 2-3 layers of paper towels, put them on top of the noodles, and then put your back into pressing the water out of the noodles. This step is important for keeping the pesto from getting too watery once it's added to the salad. You want your pesto to stick to the noodles!
  4. Add the cucumber back to the bowl. Add the cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pieces, and about half of the pesto mixture.
  5. Put the lid on the bowl, and then shake until the pasta is well-coated!
  6. Enjoy!

Tuscan Kale Salad

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I had originally planned on posting a delicious and summery cucumber caprese salad, which you may have seen if you follow me on instagram. But, then, I realized that I’d been eating the same side all week, and I decided that I should post this kale salad instead. It’s very rare that I eat the same thing every single day, but this salad is just so darn easy and so flavorful that I’ve had with my pulled pork, with my tuna cakes, and with whatever cold cuts I could find in the fridge.

Now, I have to admit something: I’ve only had kale once before. Yes, it’s this hugely popular superfood in the health world in general and in the paleo world in particular. Yes, it’s loaded with a ton of great nutrients for very little calories. And, yes, it seems like really no one can get enough of it. But, sometimes, when something is all over the place at all times, I get a little hipster. I don’t participate on principle. And when/if I do, I don’t tell anybody about it. Weird, I know.

And what do you know, the one time I tried kale (and nobody knew) was Snap Kitchen‘s version of this salad. They ‘re where I got the idea to make this at home when I saw organic chopped kale at HEB earlier this week. While I initially just picked up the salad as a perfect, low-risk way to try this supposedly amazing green, it really blew me away: it was beautiful in its simplicity. So, when I brought my very own bag of kale home with me, I knew I would try to mimic the flavors. With only six ingredients, I figured it couldn’t be that hard to get it right.

And I nailed it! Spicy, citrusy, and salty. The best part is that this takes all of 5 minutes to make. Then, because kale is such a sturdy green, it can stay good for 2-3 days without wilting and getting gross (in fact, I thought the salad was even better the next day!). So, with summer around and everyone trying to spend more time outdoors rather than in, I decided I couldn’t keep this from you!

Tuscan Kale Salad
Serves 1

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Ingredients:

3 cups chopped kale, thick stems removed
2 tbsps olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of one lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
Directions:

1. In a small bowl with a lid, add the kale and squeeze the lemon:
sthe garlic:
IMG_7695The red pepper flakes:
IMG_7698And the olive oil, salt, and few grinds of pepper:
IMG_77012. Cover the bowl with the lid, and shake vigorously for 1-2 minutes, until the kale leaves are well-coated.
3. Stick the bowl in the fridge, and let the salad rest for at least 10 minutes, and up to 2 days.
4. Serve, and enjoy!
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Tuscan Kale Salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 3 cups chopped kale, thick stems removed
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Directions
  1. In a small bowl with a lid, add all the ingredients.
  2. Cover the bowl with the lid, and shake vigorously for 1-2 minutes, until the kale leaves are well-coated.
  3. Stick the bowl in the fridge, and let the salad rest for at least 10 minutes, and up to 2 days.
  4. Serve, and enjoy!