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Bought Italian Tuna packed in oil - now what?

Reading more and more about the "greatness" of imported Italian tuna packed in oil, I bought a jar a month or so ago and into the pantry it went. It's a 5 oz (140 g) jar with 4 planks of tuna, each about 1x1x4 inches and maybe some smaller pieces in the middle.

I keep seeing it and think "Greek salad" only to argue "how boring is that?".

So what suggestions have you? I don't mind having to buy 3 or 4 add'l (perhaps specialty) ingredients, but would prefer them not be so specialized or in such quantity that they may be a one time use with more wasted than not. Since I want to enjoy the quality of the tuna, I'd prefer it not be overladen with an overpowering marinade or sauce. Maybe the salad is the way to go?

On hand, I have fresh herbs, feta cheese, a wonderful olive oil, roasted peppers, capers, olives (not Kalamata) and probably a few other items traditionally found in Italian/Greek foods.

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  1. Marinate some chopped red or sweet onion in red wine vinegar for 15 minutes or so, then drain off most of vinegar and mix the marinated onions with drained, rinsed cannellini beans, sea or kosher salt, pepper and/or pepper flakes and some of your wonderful olive oil. Put bean mixture on a bed of arugula or other nice greens and flake tuna on top. A few nice cherry or grape tomatoes and/or olives around the edge would be nice. One of my favorite hot weather meals!

    3 Replies
    1. re: GretchenS

      Slice those red onions, add s&p, tuna with oil, the rinsed cannellini beans, some capers, a squeeze of fresh, and sliced fresh basil. Serve on top of nice greens with great bread, and you have a wonderful meal.

      1. re: critter101

        I'll second this, it's a lovely dish! To make it even more traditionally Italian, soak the thinly sliced onions in a bowl of water for a little while, then wring them out before using them. It mellows the flavor nicely.

      2. re: GretchenS

        Ooops, that squeeze was fresh lemon...sorry.

      3. simple doesn't necessarily mean boring, and with such a great ingredient you don't want to do too much to it anyway. most people use it in salad, simple pasta dishes or tonnato sauce. salad is one of my favorite ways to enjoy it because you can really allow the tuna to be the star of the dish. i usually use it in a Nicoise or white bean (Cannellini) salad.

        some other ideas here:


        1. Boil baby red potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces. Add chopped red onion and chopped marinated roasted red peppers. Toss with extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar, salt pepper, and chopped parsley.

            1. Oh now I'm excited! You all are right on target with what I was hoping for - simple and delicious. I'll definitely be buying more tuna! Thank you!

              (It's only 1:00 here - I'm off to the grocery store to fulfill dinner plans)

              1. Tuna nicoise. It's a favorite- cooked potatoes, tomato, green beans, boiled egg, onion, olives and vinaigrette.

                1. Simple tomato sauce is always good. I rub a serving bowl (or bowls) with a cut clove of garlic and put the tuna with some (okay, all, but that's just me) of the oil. Grate the zest of one lemon, juice it into the bowl as well. Add some capers, loads of chopped parsley and mix together. Sometimes, a pinch of dried chile flakes. You can make it pretty uniform and smooth or leave it pretty chunky. Then I tip in some just-cooked pasta (about 1/3 of a box. I like mostly meat in the pasta), steaming straight out of the colander and toss with a bit of the pasta water.

                  1. I meant simple tuna sauce. Sheesh. Sorry!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: wasabi

                      to funny... I'm reading your post and thinking... where's the tomato? Then glanced down and saw your second post.

                    2. For lunch I often have tuna packed in oil on a salad, I just add a litter vinegar to the top as the oil is already there. With some red onion and white beans it is a great lunch.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: cassoulady

                        That is what I do too. Except with chickpeas.

                        I keep several cans in my desk drawer so when I don't have any yummy leftovers, I just bring lettuce to work in a rubbermaid container and dump the tuna over.

                      2. Try this -

                        8 oz. long fusilli
                        2 tbsp. olive oil
                        1 onion, sliced thin
                        2 cloves garlic, minced
                        1 jar roasted red peppers, in strips
                        6 oz. can imported tuna in olive oil
                        pinch red pepper flakes
                        2 tsp. lemon peel
                        1/2 tsp. black pepper
                        1/4 tsp. salt
                        1 tbsp. lemon juice
                        parsley (optional)

                        Cook the fusilli, drain, and place in large bowl.

                        While the pasta in cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet. Sauté onion until soft, and add garlic, roasted peppers, tuna, pepper flakes, lemon rind, pepper, salt and lemon juice. Cook several minutes more, until everything is hot. Garnish with parsley, and serve over pasta.

                        BTW, I usually make sure,when I buy Italian tuna in oil, to read the label and make sure it is packed in olive oil. Some manufacturers cheap out and use any oil they have.

                        1. Open jar, insert fork, eat. If as good as you hope, that is all you should do with it. If dry and sandy-esque, then doctor it as not the best

                          1 Reply
                          1. All things being equal, when thinking about composing a salad, the cannellini beans are the component that was "missing" which adds a little more heft to a typical salad. Love also the ideas of the more nutritionally complex nicoise(s).