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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Spicy Tuna Steak

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True story: Mr. Little Fish is a cannibal. Not because he eats other humans (that I know of), but because he eats fish. A lot. I can’t be sure but I think his favorite protein in the whole world might be salmon. I’m not sure because I haven’t asked because he refuses to indulge my attempts to get him to commit to some superlative (Would you say Nutella is your favorite thing ever? No. Top 2? Ehh….), but I’m just gonna go ahead and presume that it is.

Unfortunately for him, I am awfully picky about my salmon. Whenever I ordered it in restaurants, I always found it dry and overly fishy. Salmon has a very distinct flavor to me, and I haven’t quite found a pattern to when I find it tolerable and when I don’t, although I suspect cooking it at home might have something to do with it (recipes to come!).

The only consistent way that I like salmon is in sushi. I like raw fish. I even made ceviche once (it was delicious). So, when I recently bought Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here for the Food (which is a great food-nerd book by the way!), and he featured a blackened tuna steak in his “Searing” section, I thought that we’d found an acceptable compromise.  And indeed we did, despite Mr. LF’s unending paranoia about eating raw foods.  It’s like he came from a Third World country or something (spoiler alert: he did).

The spice mix on the fish is perfect–spicy, salty, tangy, delicious.  I stuck to the original recipe for the spice mix, even though it only called for one tuna steak, and it has been plenty.  In fact, I decided that, rather than throwing it out, I have put the spice mix in a little ziplock baggie and stuck it in the fridge for future tuna-coating purposes.  This will make an already fabulously quick recipe even quicker!

Also, because I think there is something primal about seeing the grill marks on food, I invested in an inexpensive cast-iron grill pan awhile back that has been great for all kinds of steaks (but particularly for a delicious ribeye I made the other day!).  If you are only interested in buying one cast iron pan, I would suggest going with a regular skillet over this grill pan because it’s slightly less versatile.  But for the price, you could easily get them both!  I am sure, however, that you could probably sear this tuna on a regular non-stick pan, but make sure to put a good coating of oil so that it actually does not stick.

Blackened Tuna Steak
Adapted from I’m Just Here for the Food by Alton Brown
Serves 2

Deliciously pink on the insde

Deliciously pink on the insde

Ingredients:

2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp salt
2 tsp onion powder
3 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried ginger
2 tsp ground cumin
Coconut oil
2 tuna steaks, about 1-inch thick
1 half lemon

Directions:

1.  Mix the spices together in a small baggie.  Then, put your cast iron skillet on the burner over medium high heat.  This gives the cast iron some time to heat up before putting the food on it.
2.  Put the tuna steaks on your cutting board, and use a pastry brush, or your fingers, to rub the melted coconut oil on to the surface of the steaks.  Sprinkle enough of the spice mix on the fish to cover all sides of it.
3.    Drizzle a tiny bit of the coconut oil over the pan, and then place your tuna steaks in the pan.  It will sizzle and sear and might get kind of smoky, so turn your oven hood on.  Leave the tuna steaks completely alone for 3 minutes.
4.  If, at the end of the three minutes, the fish is sticking to the pan, let it sit for one more minute.  If not, flip it over to the other side and cook for another three minutes.
5.  Take the steaks out of the pan, and squeeze a little lemon juice over them.  Serve with roasted veggies or on top of salad!

What’s your favorite way to cook fish?

Spicy Tuna Steak
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • Coconut oil
  • 2 tuna steaks, about 1-inch thick
  • 1 half lemon
Directions
  1. Mix the spices together in a small baggie. Then, put your cast iron skillet on the burner over medium high heat. This gives the cast iron some time to heat up before putting the food on it.
  2. Put the tuna steaks on your cutting board, and use a pastry brush, or your fingers, to rub the melted coconut oil on to the surface of the steaks. Sprinkle enough of the spice mix on the fish to cover all sides of it.
  3. Drizzle a tiny bit of the coconut oil over the pan, and then place your tuna steaks in the pan. It will sizzle and sear and might get kind of smoky, so turn your oven hood on. Leave the tuna steaks completely alone for 3 minutes.
  4. If, at the end of the three minutes, the fish is sticking to the pan, let it sit for one more minute. If not, flip it over to the other side and cook for another three minutes.
  5. Take the steaks out of the pan, and squeeze a little lemon juice over them. Serve with roasted veggies or on top of salad!