There's a saying that I live by; "You get what you pay for." Don't get me wrong, I love a bargain, but I'm also a big fan of spending more money on something of higher quality, or something that will improve my comfort and experience. A First Class airplane ticket, for example. I can't always afford it, so I don't often fly with the financially elite. But when I can, I go for more space, better food, and a much higher quality experience than Economy or even Business Class. But ultimately, no matter how much any passenger pays for a ticket, we all get to the same place at the same time.
Last week I was given a great opportunity to create recipes and demo my culinary creations at Fairway Markets in Manhattan and the Bronx. I was given a first class product to use - Tonnino Tuna. Have you tried it? Yes, it is a few more dollars than what you're probably used to paying for your normal tin of tuna. Guess what - your taste buds and the mealtime of your friends and family are worth these few extra dollars.
I'm not being paid to write this blog, and I am not yet a brand ambassador for the good people at Tonnino - though I'm excited to develop a greater relationship with them in the future. I'm writing because I'm a chef that has discovered a new product that is superior to any other tuna I've had and I want you to know all about it!
Superior is a big claim, I know. Let me back it up. You get high-quality whole chunks of sweet tuna belly, not shreds that are basically fishmonger scraps. Tonnino has a non "fishy" flavor. This goes far with me as I am not a fan of seafood in the first place. And if you care about pretty packaging, (and I do!) the gold lids and all the individual colors of each label make me feel like I'm buying something special. Tonnino comes from Costa Rica and is dolphin safe, 100% Non GMO, low mercury, and 100% yellowfin. ALL good things!
The real thing that won me over is something I discovered during my recipe development process --- the oil in which the tuna is packed is Costa Rican gold.They use 100% olive oil and sea salt, no blends. If you drain and reserve the oil, you're halfway to a marinade or sauce for a completely separate dish! The packing oils are so flavorful and rich I didn't want to waste them.
I implemented the oils from the Tonnino bottles into all three of my recipes. As a consumer, you're actually saving money on additional spices, herbs, and olive oil that you'd have to buy with regular tuna. I honestly felt like I was getting three ingredients in one.
This week I learned that the saying, "You get what you pay for" couldn't hold more truth. You pay a few more dollars and you get elevated results on your plate. You might even feel like you're eating a meal that's served when you're flying first class!
Many years ago I was a food demo girl. I was often asked to join the sales team because I was so passionate and persuasive about the products I was showcasing. I can't imagine a life in sales, I'm glad I stayed on my own path. This time, it made such a difference offering samples of something I had created and made with my own two hands. Many customers were very disappointed that my recipes weren't actual products being sold in the store. Had the pasta sauce and tuna salad been for sale, they would have flown off the shelves! The positive feedback was so wonderful to hear. I actually began to imagine something I cooked being jarred or packaged and being sold in a grocery store one day. It was invigorating and inspiring. Tonnino, are you reading? If you'd like to add a line of prepared food featuring your tuna, I'm your girl!
Here are 2 of the recipes I prepared for Fairway and Tonnino:
Chilmark Tuna Salad
I cooked for a family for 2 Summers in Martha's Vineyard about 13 years ago (!!!) Have you been? It is heaven. Change all your vacation plans for the summer and start organizing a trip to this fantastic island in Massachusetts. They asked for tuna salad one day for lunch and said, "Oh don't use mayo. We like it with vinegar and lemon juice. Oh and olives. Make it kind of Mediterranean. Don't forget the sweet pickle relish!" And this little recipe was born...
- 3 cans Tonnino tuna, oil drained and reserved
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/4 cup diced celery
- 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
- 2 T minced parsley
- 2 T sweet pickle relish or gherkins
- 1.5 T lemon juice
- 1.5 T white wine vinegar
- 2 T reserved oil
- salt and pepper
Make a dressing with the lemon juice, vinegar, and reserved oil. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and then toss with the dressing.
Pasta Sauce with Capers and Oregano
- 1 jar of Tonnino Tuna Fillets With Oregano, oil drained and reserved
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 15 oz.can of tomato puree
- 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
- 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
- salt and pepper
- 1 3.5 oz. jar of capers, drained
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
In a large sauce pan over medium heat, add the drained oil, garlic, and onions. Stir to coat everything. Cook for 3-5 minutes until onions are softened a bit. Add the chopped tomatoes, the sauce, and puree. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, and simmer on low for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add the capers and oregano. Serve over pasta!