In writing this blog it made me think of the late-60’s, early-70’s band Hot Tuna (remember them?) an American blues rock band formed as a spin-off of Jefferson Airplane. They began during a hiatus in Airplane’s touring schedule in early 1969 while good ol’ Gracie Slick was undergoing recovery from throat node surgery that had left her unable to perform. July 1974 marked a departure from their primarily bluesy, acoustic style when Hot Tuna dropped their acoustic sets completely and morphed into a heavy rock band. They performed their final concert at the Palladium in New York City in November 1977… OK, I digress…
Good-quality tuna is a fabulous secret weapon for easy but satisfying meals. Its silky texture and slightly briny flavor makes this salad feel substantial. And by all means, don’t buy the cheaper canned stuff. You’ll be amazed at the difference in quality.
Fine Cooking blind-tested both canned and jarred samples and overwhelmingly preferred the jarred tuna (yes, it does cost more) which contained bigger pieces, was richer tasting, and had better texture. And we have to concur! They rated these two brands as the best: Tonnino (pictured below) and Sclafani.
Tuna, Escarole, and Chickpea Salad with Warm Garlic-Herb Vinaigrette
- 2 6.7-oz. jars good-quality tuna in oil
- Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
- 2 Tbs. minced shallot
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 medium head (about 1 lb.) escarole, trimmed, cleaned, and cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced lengthwise
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved with a vegetable peeler (a heaping 1/3 cup)
- Strain the oil from the tuna into a 1 cup measure. Add oil, if necessary, for a total of 1/2 cup. In a medium bowl, flake the tuna into large pieces and set aside.
- In a 1-quart saucepan, heat the oil and shallot over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the lemon juice, parsley, rosemary, and pepper flakes.
- In a large bowl, toss the escarole, chickpeas, and onion with enough of the warm vinaigrette to coat the greens well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Divide the salad among four dinner plates and top each with a quarter of the tuna. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the tuna, top with the cheese, and serve.
PS—We had enough leftover for both of us to take to work for lunch the next day and we were both surprised how well the salad held up.