GOD-DESS

Simple! Sensible! Sensational!®

June 2005
© 2005 by Bret S. Beall

CONVENIENCE IN A CAN!

I know you probably never expected a column from Bret Beall and Global Organic Designs Lifestyle Services to encourage eating something out of a can. If anything, my biggest bugaboo is avoiding processing foods excessively in order to retain their greatest nutritional benefits.

The canned convenience to which this column is devoted is canned seafood. Canned seafoods (tuna, salmon, sardines, clams, octopus, mussels and more) are wonderful ingredients because they can be stored for extended periods, they often retain most of the nutrition of their fresh counterparts, and because one can often find these products on sale. You can save time and money by buying these products en masse when they are on sale, and you can have good nutrition, too!

Specifically, what are the nutritional benefits of canned seafood? Well, it won’t surprise you to learn that each species of seafood (back to biology!) has a different nutritional profile. Similarly, each species has a distinct health caveat; I would encourage you to search the web for specific nutritional/health information for each species. Sadly, the canning process often removes/destroys the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids that fatty fish convey to our diets; this is not the case with sardines, so I strongly recommend using sardines in this recipe (in fact, I developed the following recipe specifically for sardines, and expanded it to other canned fish and seafood; sardines are rich in calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, niacin and protein, while being relatively low in both calories and mercury levels).

MEDITERRANEAN SEAFOOD BLEND

This recipe uses canned seafood, but be aware that not all canned seafood is of equal quality; I particularly like tuna, sardines, octopus, mussels and clams, but canned shrimp, crab and salmon rarely have much flavor (but will work in this recipe if you are desperate), and anchovies are too strong to be in these proportions. This recipe serves one heartily, or two with appropriate side dishes (like a nice green salad).

Add the olive oil to a small skillet over medium heat; add the onion and sauté until translucent (or slightly caramelized for an additional flavor). Add the remaining ingredients and stir to break up pieces of seafood and to blend with the additional ingredients. This mixture can be served hot, at room temperature or chilled. It’s also delicious (and beautiful, and healthful) with about 1 c of arugula, sorrel or spinach cut in a finely chiffonade and added to the sauté.

Applications:

Seafood salad: Serve a mound of half of the seafood blend on a bed of lettuce, and garnish with wedges of hardboiled eggs, tomatoes, olives, and maybe even your favorite cheese for a healthy summer (or year-round) salad. If using tuna, you can call this Salade Nicoise (especially if you add some boiled potatoes to the presentation).

Seafood sandwich: Spread two slices of bread or toast with mustard and/or mayonnaise; top one piece of bread with half of the seafood mixture, and spread evenly to the edges of the bread. If desired, top with lettuce and sliced tomatoes before topping with the second piece of bread or toast.

Topping for Pasta/Rice/Potato: While the mixture is still hot in the skillet, add ½ lb pasta (cooked), or 2 c of cooked rice, or 1 lb of boiled/steamed potatoes cut in ½ inch cubes (about 1.5 c). Toss/stir to mix; serve with grated cheese if desired. A delicious addition is ½ c rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes, chopped, with their soaking water (about ¼ c after rehydration is complete).

Bruschetta topping: Toast bread slices in a toaster oven, on a grill, under a broiler, or in a dry skillet; top with the warm mixture and serve immediately, topped with a sprinkle of grated cheese and/or chopped tomatoes if desired.

Quiche: Double the recipe for the Mediterranean Seafood Blend; allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, mix ½ c milk with 3-4 eggs. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When mixture has cooled sufficiently, stir in the milk and egg mixture (1/2 c diced tomatoes can be added at this point if desired). This mixture is enough to fill a 9” pie crust, and this combination is particularly good with the wild rice crust mentioned elsewhere (http://www.god-dess.com/services_recipesJan04.html). To fill the crust, first cover the bottom of the crust with ¼ c grated cheese (something mild like Monterey Jack, or salty like parmesan, pecorino, anejo or cotija, or crumbly like queso fresco or feta, or even everyday cheddar or mozzarella); pour in the mixture; top with another ¼ c cheese. Bake 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, perhaps with a side salad.

This column is not about replacing fresh food with canned. It’s about recognizing that “some” canned ingredients have nutrition and flavor in addition to being convenient. I’m into empowering people with the knowledge to make those decisions. Of course, if you don’t like seafood, you can either ignore this column, or learn to like seafood, or contact me at 773.508.9208 or email with your specific questions about particular canned foods.

 

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