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~Tuna Salad w/Cottage Cheese, Tomato & Cucumber~

IMG_3207I picked a cucumber this morning.  I walked to the the other side of the vegetable garden and picked a couple of tomatoes too.  Checking out the vegetable garden in the early hours of the day, as soon as it's light enough to see, is part of my routine.  My dad used to do the same thing.  He'd come in the house, rinse off whatever he'd picked, put all the "stuff" in the dish drainer, then go out to mow the grass.  Dad thrived on his routines, and, sans the lawn mower, so do I.  While carrying my cucumber and two tomatoes into my kitchen, a childhood memory hit me head on.

IMG_3221A charming story about an easy Summertime recipe: 

Occasionally, on a day off or a Saturday, dad would fix his version of tuna salad for us.  On mom's medium-sized meat platter, he'd make a bed of soft garden lettuce leaves, then add a layer of tomato slices followed by a sliced cucumber.  He'd scatter a lightly-drained can of chilled tuna-packed-in-oil over the veggies, followed by a few dollops of cottage cheese.  His creation ended with a sprinkling of salt and black pepper.  Mom would make some rye toast, put a pitcher of iced tea on the table and lunch was served.  It wasn't fancy, but it sure was healthy, and we loved it.

We'd each put a slice of toast on our plate, then, with a large scooper-type spatula, top it with a generous portion of dad's salad.  Considering it didn't contain any fresh or dried herbs, special seasonings or flavor-enhancing ingredients, it was amazingly tasty and refreshing.  Nowadays, a proper term for it might be "deconstructed tuna salad".  That said, over the years, I added some onion (dad refused to eat raw onion), sneak in a bit of lemony mayonnaise (dad detested mayonnaise), and, a tad of tangy whole-grain mustard (dad only ate ballpark mustard, and, in all seriousness, only on a fried bologna sandwich or a hot dog).  There's more.  Instead of the unruly layering, I now dice and stir my ingredients together, to serve on toast points or crackers.  

IMG_31841  5-ounce can high-quality tuna-packed-in-oil, drained

6  tablespoons cottage cheese

2  tablespoons mayonnaise

2  teaspoons whole-grain mustard

1/2  cup  small-diced celery

1/2  cup peeled, seeded & small-diced cucumber

1/4  cup seeded and small-diced tomato

1  teaspoon dried onion flakes

IMG_3187 IMG_3187~ Step 1.  Prep the tuna, celery, cucumber and tomato as directed, placing them in a medium bowl as you work.  Using a large rubber spatula, toss the tuna and vegetables together.  Set to the side while preparing the dressing.

IMG_3190 IMG_3190 IMG_3190 IMG_3190~Step 2.  In a small bowl, place and stir together the cottage cheese, mayonnaise, mustard and dehydrated onion.  Add the dressing to the vegetables.  Using the spatula, fold the two mixtures together until vegetables are evenly enrobed in dressing.  Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours.

Serve on crackers, with toast points, or, in a sandwich.

IMG_3210Tuna Salad w/Cottage Cheese, Tomato & Cucumber:  Recipe yields 3 cups tuna salad.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; rubber spatula; spoon; 4-cup food storage container w/tight-fitting lid.

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c7f6a67a970bCook's Note: My dad's mac & (cottage) cheese is a comforting, flavor-packed dish that will provide almost instant gratification because it goes from stovetop to table in the time it takes to cook the macaroni. His unusual combination of hot, spicy, buttered elbow macaroni, tossed with cold cottage cheese (he liked farmers' cheese more but began substituting cottage cheese as farmers' cheese started to get harder find)  literally bursts with flavor.  ~ Dad's Mac and Cheese, or:  What I Cook just for Me ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


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