Canned Tuna Four Ways

Homemade dinners on a weekday can be difficult to coordinate. Between working, school, going to the gym, and the other ten thousand things on your to do list, the last thing you want to worry about is putting together a complicated dish at the end of the day. In these situations, I often turn to canned tuna to serve as my main protein source. It's already cooked, it's cheap, and it's pretty healthy (minus the mercury, which is only an issue if you eat it nearly every day). Here are four of my favorite ways to prepare canned tuna in simple, yet satisfying homemade meals.

Tuna Spaghetti: This is one of my go-to pasta recipes, because it's fast and delicious, and I usually have all the ingredients on hand. Cook half a package of spaghetti until al dente, reserving one cup of the cooking liquid. Open a can of tuna packed in oil and drain the tuna-infused oil into a saucepan. Heat over medium flame, and add a minced glove of garlic and a teaspoon or so of crushed red pepper. After the garlic turns golden, add in the tuna and the zest and juice of one lemon. Stir in the spaghetti and add the reserved cooking liquid ¼ cup at a time until you reach your preferred consistency. Plate the pasta and sprinkle with dry crumbs before serving.

Tuna Wraps: Open a can of tuna packed in water, drain, and pour into a bowl. Add a drizzle of olive oil, shredded carrots, diced cucumbers, and a handful of toasted chopped walnuts. Stir to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper. Next spoon the mixture onto a crisp leaf of iceberg lettuce and wrap it up. Depending on how healthy you want to go, you can take this a step further and wrap it in a tortilla, or you can stick with the lettuce. I usually add a whole grain tortilla just to bulk the meal up.

Tuna Melt: The epitome of simple and satisfying. Preheat broiler. Combine a can of drained tuna with a minced glove of garlic, one tbsp mayo, salt and pepper. Split two English muffins in half. Top two of the muffin halves with cheddar cheese. Lightly butter the other two halves. Place the split muffins on a pan and broil until the bread is toasted and golden and the cheese is melted. Place a scoop of the tuna mixture on ½ of the English muffin. Add a leaf of crisp iceberg and slice of tomato. Combine the two halves to make a sandwich.

Asian-Inspired Tuna Salad: Fill a bowl with a blend of spinach and crunchy lettuce. Add in a handful of sugar snap peas, shredded carrots, diced cucumber, and sliced mushrooms. Next toss in some peanuts, wasabi peas, and sesame sticks for crunch. Add in a can of drained tuna. Make a dressing by whisking together ½ cup of sesame oil with ¼ of rice wine vinegar and two tbsp of sweet chili sauce. Toss the salad with the dressing. This salad is so good that even my friends who usually sneer at eating salad ask for seconds.

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Geri Maria Harris