Monthly Archives: July 2018

Tuna and White Bean Salad.

I hate cooking in the summertime; but then, who doesn’t? I’m always looking for the next great cold salad. So imagine how thrilled I was to come across a recipe from Giada de Laurentiis that incorporates some of my favorite ingredients all in one dish. My rendition here is a bit different from Giada’s; I added and subtracted, mixed and matched, pushed and pulled, until I came up with a flavor profile that just knocks me out,

Giada offers arugula in her recipe, and if that suits you, then fine. I made it with watercress, and really like the extra zing. You can also use a milder green, such as red- or green-leaf lettuce, if you prefer. But go easy on the greens for this one. The flavor of the herbs and oil and vinegars are the real stars of this dish.



2 (6-ounce) cans premium-grade solid white tuna, packed in water

2 (15-ounce) cans cannelini white beans, drained and rinsed

1/3 cup small capers, nonpareil in brine, drained and rinsed

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons premium-grade balsamic vinegar

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons garlic-infused EV olive oil (I make my own  *see note)

Sea salt and fresh ground black AND white pepper

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

3 scallions, green parts only, chopped

1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno pepper, no seeds

2 cups fresh arugula or watercress

1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes (optional)

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

6 fresh basil leaves


1. In a large bowl, add the tuna, breaking into bite-size pieces with a large fork. Add the beans, chopped jalapeno, and capers.

2. Into the bowl, add the olive oils and vinegars. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Pour dressing on the tuna, bean and caper mixture and allow the flavors to infuse while slicing the vegetables.

4. Add the onion, scallion, rosemary, and tomatoes to tuna mixture and toss gently. Adjust the taste with more salt and pepper, to taste.

5. Place the greens on large a decorative platter and top with tuna mixture. Tear fresh basil leaves over the top, sprinkle with a bit more balsamic vinegar, and serve immediately.


  • Note:  Garlic-infused EV olive oil:  peel the cloves of 1 whole head of garlic, smash lightly, and place in a saucepan with 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Heat until the cloves begin to bubble. Then turn the heat down to medium low and sweat the garlic cloves until they JUST begin to lightly brown, about 30-35 minutes. Turn the heat off, and allow to cool completely.  Carefully strain through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth to remove all the garlic pieces. Be sure to remove all the garlic pieces; this is important. Any remaining garlic pieces will grow bacteria. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.

Authentic Tuscan Panzanella

Damn, but it’s hot out there. The Easiest Home-Made Bread You'll Ever MakeCan’t imagine heating up the kitchen on a day like this, and fortunately, I don’t have to.  I’ve got some wonderful things going for me here in Jeff’s Kitchen, and I can–will, tonight, produce about the best cold  salad in my repertoire, and one the family always looks forward to, because the ingredients are as good as it gets, fresh and tangy.

It’s also true that this is one I can make with virtually all home-grown and/or homemade ingredients. I won’t dwell on the gory details of the garden out back, but you can make inferences of your own.

It’s panzanella, an amazing Italian bread and cucumber salad, that I’ve adapted to fit the needs of our eating habits and likes.  You can grow the produce, bake the bread, whip it up in a flash on a hot summer day, and enjoy the fruits of your own hands, with style and substance.  This one is good enough to make for company. Which we’ve done, more than once.  I call it “authentic,” but I’ve actually added one non-authentic ingredient, because the one thing the recipe lacks is protein. Ergo garbanzo beans.

Make it. You won’t be sorry.

Tuscan Panzanella


  • 2 1/2 pounds mixed tomatoes, cut into bite-sized piece
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  •  3/4 pound ciabatta or rustic sourdough bread, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (about 6 cups bread cubes
  • 1 seedless English cucumber, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup dried and reconstituted or 1 can (drained) garbanzo beans
  • 10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves, roughly chopped


1. Place tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl and season with 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Toss to coat. Set aside at room temperature to drain, tossing occasionally, while you toast the bread. Drain for a minimum of 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F and adjust rack to center position. In a large bowl, toss bread cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crisp and firm but not browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

3. Remove colander with tomatoes from bowl with tomato juice. Place colander with tomatoes in the sink. Add shallot, garlic, mustard, and vinegar to the bowl with tomato juice. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Combine toasted bread, cucumbers, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, and dressing in a large bowl. Add basil leaves. Toss everything to coat and season with salt and pepper. Let rest for 30 minutes before serving, tossing occasionally until dressing is completely absorbed by bread.

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