Tag Archives: Lent

LENT: Big Up Your Tuna Salad

26 Feb

We’re approaching the second Friday of Lent (and my second week without cheese, Lord help me). It’ll be tuna salad for lunch tomorrow, but not your run-of-the-mill deli style tuna salad. I like my flavors a little bigger and bolder (except for the tuna, which I confess to liking on the milder side; I prefer albacore and try to purchase ocean friendly brands). Here’s my easy way of making tuna salad special.

I am trying to keep the carb load down, so I'll just have my tuna salad with lettuce.

I am trying to keep the carb load down, so I’ll just have my tuna salad with lettuce.

To one 5 oz. can tuna, drained, I add 1 Tbs prepared mayonnaise and 1-2 tsp each of prepared mustard, drained capers, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chopped onion, and chopped roasted red pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve on bread or salad.


Fish on Fridays: 5 Seafood Solutions for Lent (or any time)!

22 Mar

So you forgot it was Friday and for a Catholic in Lent (lapsed or not, and you are talking to a serious case of the relapsed kind) that can present a last minute scramble. Relax. Here are five quickie solutions that you can do today!

Delicious shrimp scampi - perfect Lenten meal that everyone will love.

Delicious shrimp scampi – perfect Lenten meal that everyone will love.

BRoiled Lemon Flounder (kid-friendly!)

BRoiled Lemon Flounder (kid-friendly!)

Gotta love big flake fish - Cod with Capers and Onions

Gotta love big flake fish – Cod with Capers and Onions

This is a Puerto Rican salt cod classic (you must factor in time for soaking/boiling off salt

This is a Puerto Rican salt cod classic (you must factor in time for soaking/boiling off salt

Fish filets in Creole Tomato sauce (filete de pescado en salsa entomatada)

Fish filets in Creole Tomato sauce (filete de pescado en salsa entomatada)

Shrimp Scampi (Shrimp in Garlic Wine Sauce)

4 Mar

“This is the best lunch ever, Mom, the King of All Lunches,” says Leandro, The King of All Understatements.

The source of his enthusiasm was Shrimp Scampi (kind of an Americanized misnomer for an Italian recipe: read here). And if it wasn’t the best lunch ever (he has fewer lunches to compare with than I do) it was pretty damn good.

Simmering off the wine

Simmering off the wine

Continue reading

Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Chipotle-Spiked Vinaigrette

29 Feb

I have been very, very busy these days with several projects (a culinary dictionary is one!), so deserved a grown-up meal made by my own loving hands. But it also had to be something not very involved that I could sling together fast, because  just don’t have enough time for everything I’d like to do!

Whether you are doing the Lenten fish on Friday thing or just happen to have some extra cooked shrimp from a buffet table or recipe, or just defrosted some shrimp that you didn’t get a chance to use and want to do something fun with (and that you have absolutely no intentions of sharing with your spoiled little son for whom you do too much anyway and whose leftovers you are sick of picking at instead of making something proper for yourself)….this is a very simple recipe that looks and tastes like a million bucks.

In an avocado shell or on a tostada...this salad looks as good as it tastes!

Shrimp and Avocado Salad Spiked with Chipotle Vinaigrette

(can be double or tripled or more to accommodate a crowd!)


3 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs fresh lime juice

1 tsp chipotle in adobo – you can use the sauce and skip the peppers themselves, or include peppers, seeded and minced

Pinch salt


1 Cup cooked shrimp, cut into small chunks

1Tbs red onion, minced

10 grape tomatoes, quartered

1 ripe avocado, sliced in half. Scoop out flesh (discard stone) carefully and cut into small chunks. Reserve shells.

Salt to taste

Extra squeeze of lime to finish

Whisk dressing ingredients in a small bowl until incorporated.

Place shrimp, onion, and tomatoes in a medium bowl. Cover with dressing and stir gently. Then add avocado chunks and stir once again, very gently. Scoop salad into reserved avocado shells (or onto tostadas. Finish with lime and salt and serve.

Bacalao a la Vizcaribe (A classic cod dish reconstructed)

18 Mar
Scoopable cod!

For all these years I thought I was making bacalao a la vizcaína (salt cod, biscayne or vizcayan style), when I was really making a sort-of bacalao guisado (stewed salt cod)! I only found out yesterday, as I started soaking the cod for another Lenten Friday of fish. “Let me see how Valldejuli and Cabanillas make it,” I thought, referring to two classic Puerto Rican cooks whose recipes I have lived by over the years.

I expected some inspiration for innovation, but what I got was comeuppance. I was so shocked by what I found that I checked Penelope Casas’ more Iberian, continental recipes for the dish. And it turns out that what I have been telling people is my “Bacalao a la vizcaína” is actually something else, but not quite.

So, I am a little embarrassed, but nevermind, my bacalao dish is really good and easier than pie. It makes my parents happy. And, apparently, it is my own. Thus, the silly name change.

I hope to try the real vizcaína later in Lent (it looks to be even easier than my version), but for now, this one is more than satisfactory and includes much of the same things: salt cod, onions, garlic, tomatoes, raisins, capers. It’s got salt, sweet and spice (if you like). It is rich without being heavy. This is a stew that goes well with rice, with potatoes (dressed with parsley and olive oil), with avocado and with hard-boiled eggs. It also goes well with Mark Kurlansky’s incredibly entertaining book Cod: A biography of the fish that changed the world which will enlighten you about why so many peoples in this world will go through the trouble of desalinating and cooking such a strong-tasting, strong-smelling fish. If you come from a seafaring nation, particularly bordering the Atlantic/in the Caribbean, it is part of you and you just can’t help it.

Bacalao al la vizcaribe

1-1.5 lbs salt cod, soaked overnight in cool water and then some more the next day, with at least two changes of water*

3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced (yellow or big, fat, sweet are recommended)

1 green cooking pepper (cubanelle, Italian), finely diced

1 red pepper, finely diced (and a tsp of red pepper flakes, if you are so inclined)

4-5 cloves garlic, minced

1 24oz can peeled, diced or pureed tomatoes, chopped if necessary

¼ cup raisins

1 heaping Tbs capers, drained indifferently

15 green pimiento-stuffed olives, drained indifferently

Accompaniments: (choose one or more, mix and match) four hard-boiled eggs, sliced in half; avocado slices; boiled potatoes dressed with parsley and olive oil; rice; crusty bread toasted)

Heat olive oil in a pot on high and add onion. Stir to coat, then lower heat to medium and sauté until wilted. Add peppers and garlic and sauté another five minutes or more, until translucent.  Add the tomato and bring to a boil. Add cod (no need to break it up; it will fall apart in the cooking and stirring), raisins, capers and olives, lower heat and simmer (covered if it is not very liquid; uncovered if it seems very watery) for at least 20 minutes at a gentle bubble, stirring occasionally. Serve with you choice of accompaniments.

*Many people are afraid of salt cod or bacalao because of the salt. I find that an overnight soak with several changes of water does the trick. But if you forget to soak it the night before, boil a pot of water, drop the bacalao in for five minutes, drain and rinse thoroughly and you should be fine.   I actually add salt sometimes in the end!)


Tuna and Caper Salad (quick Lenten lunch)

10 Mar

A different take on tuna salad; zippy for lunch during Lent!

In a bit of a hurry to make my brown bag lunch, I banged together some tuna salad, but without mayonnaise (although a dab of mayo would go well too!). This is one of my favorites for a picnic lunch any time, but as a Catholic during Lent, when fish is de riguer for Fridays, this is a true friend. I usually have it on salad, but you can sandwich it, wrap it, stuff it in a pita, mound it on crackers…very flexible! If you have ripe avocado, slice it up and add it to whichever way you are serving the tuna. The cool blandness plays well with the tangy tuna.

Tuna and Caper Salad

1 5 oz can tuna (whichever you prefer; because I am a maniac, I buy sustainably-caught), drained

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs red wine vinegar

1/8 tsp your favorite prepared mustard

1 Tbs red onion, chopped fine

1 Tbs capers, drained

1 Tbs roasted red pepper (optional)

Whisk oil and vinegar together with a fork until blended. Stir in mustard. Pour over tuna, add red onion and mix well. Stir in capers and red pepper, if desired. Serve over green salad with chunks of avocado, or in sandwiches, with avocado slices.

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