I remember when I was a kid, tuna fish was always packed in oil – at least the stuff we ate my house. This was the 1970s everyone was eating tuna fish sandwiches, tuna casseroles, all of the that stuff. Eventually tuna was being shipped in water and marketed as a healthier alternative to the soybean oil it was usually in. My kids grew up eating tuna fish packed in water! We just kind of went along with it and never gave it a second thought.
Recently I was contacted by Genova Tonno (tonno translates to tuna in Italian) to review their canned tuna fish. Genova solid yellowfin tuna is packed in olive oil. If you don't know the difference between tuna fished marked as solid or chunk buy a can of each and check them out. I can tell you that solid tuna in a can looks like a sliced piece of fish nestled into a can whereas “chunk” tuna looks kind of mushy and shredded. They shipped me a nice gift basket to sample their product and inspire me to come up with some ideas on how their tuna can be prepared. It's a nice gift basket too!
I checked out the contents of the basket and grabbed one of the cans of tuna. I liked the branding, kind of along the veins of traditional tuna packaging. If you're into that type of thing, search the web for other examples. The blurb on the side of the can states:
Genova Tonno© Premium Yellowfin Tuna. Wild caught from deep waters, Genova Select Yellowfin if all natural with no additives or preservatives. Packed in the Mediterranean tradition with olive oil, it has a delicious flavor and is a natural source of Omega-3.
When I opened the can it wasn't fishy like other cans of tuna I've had, which was normally the cheapest, store brand. The oil was pretty much clear when I poured it out and the fish inside the can looked solid. I could pull apart flakes with my fingers and when I tossed a piece in my mouth it wasn't mushy at all. Pretty tasty stuff.
Of course the first thing that popped into my head was tuna salad, right? I love that stuff but I wouldn't be doing Genova justice if I just tossed it in a bowl with some relish and mayonnaise. I started to think about traditional Italian recipes and dishes that would compliment the solid, fresh tasting tuna they gave me. You'd probably like to hear a story of my Italian grandmother passing down tuna recipes from the Old Country being passed down from generation to generation but I can't do that. I was born in Bangkok and raised in Virginia Beach, VA – I had to do a little research.
One thing we like to do in our house – and Shelby is great at this – is experiment with food. She'll just take a mental inventory of what we have in the cabinets and figure out what goes well together and then make it. She hits the mark on the head too! I like to look up a few things, get an idea of where a recipe is trying to go and follow that path. After I get comfortable with it, I'll explore flavor profiles and ingredients to come up with something new; this is what I did for Genova. They gave me three cans of their premium tuna fish, so I came up with three recipes. Each one was a nod to regional Italian dishes, or so I hope, that incorporate Genova tuna fish. Find where Genova tuna is sold locally in your area and give these a shot. As always, feel free to modify the recipes to suit your own tastes and preferences.
A traditional Sicilian winter dish is the Blood Orange Salad. The fruit primarily grown in Italy but is also grown in Spain and the United States among other places in the world. The blood orange has a dark red pulp that is sweet and has many health benefits. Blood orange salad is usually made with shaved fennel bulb but I went with ground fennel seed that is bright and highly compliments the tuna and citrus. Click the this link for the recipe.
Arancini is Italian street food and consists of breaded, balled risotto that is fried to perfection. I'm a sucker for anything fried and this is no exception! I mixed it up a little bit and added some extra cheese and seasoning to the risotto that is then wrapped around a chunk of Genova tuna fish before it's panned fried. Everyone loves these things, I've made a bunch of them and shared them with friends and co-workers. This recipe is tested and true – click this link for the recipe.
I'll admit that this one isn't truly Italian but it allows me to share my Golden Couscous recipe with the world. I will usually make couscous with basil shrimp at home but it works well with the Genova tuna. The cool, refreshing tuna atop of the warm, paprika spiced couscous will be a crowd pleaser. We love Mediterranean and Anatolian food, give this a shot and you will not be disappointed. It's easy too! Click here for the recipe.
I mentioned a gift basket earlier and I wanted to let everyone know that Genova has generously offered to allow me to give away one to my readers. Check out the olivewood cheeseboard that comes with it, it's amazing. Shelby feel in love with it as soon as she saw it. Go to I-Heart-Food's Facebook page to learn how you could win this for yourself.