Tuna patties recipe

Tuna Patties by Pamela Salzman

Everyone this week was asking about my Mother’s Day and I realized I completely forgot to recount the day for my dear readers!  After all, it has been tradition the last couple of years that my husband and bother-in-law and sometimes my father-in-law too, plan and execute Mother’s Day lunch for the ladies.  They even do the dishes!  The whole day feels like such a treat since I can even workout in the morning AND wash AND blow dry my hair.  Before noon!  Now that doesn’t happen very often.  But I also really look forward to trying some new eats, like the bulgur-feta burgers they made last year from Maria Speck’s cookbook.  Yummers!  Eating food that’s not for a class or my blog is a fun experience for me.

really fantastic tuna from Vital Choice

This year, the boys were a little behind on their planning and were deciding the menu on Sunday morning.  On their way to the grocery store.  I guess they figured the easiest place to go for recipes with which they were familiar was my website.  Yep.  More of my food.  Whatever.  It’s all fine.  They did a great job even though it took them about 5 hours to make 2 salads and strawberry shortcakes.  And my husband put his own (unintentional) spin on my avocado, jicama and mango salad when he substituted curry powder for cumin.  The first two letters are the same — easy mistake!  Nonetheless, it was a perfect Mother’s Day.

makings of tuna patties

I was working at home the other day with my assistant and normally we throw together leftovers from a class for lunch or make a kale salad with quinoa and whatever is in the vegetable drawer, but yesterday I had a craving for NOT MY FOOD.  I was feeling spontaneous and decided to look through my Foodily faves and Pinterest pins.  I came upon these tuna patties and nothing could stop me.  They reminded me of ones that my mom used to make, except I am fairly certain she used Ritz Crackers as the binder.  Gotta love the 70’s.

taste it for seasoning before you add the egg

I had all the ingredients handy and we threw these together in no time.  They were so delicious and reminded me a little of crab cakes, but much easier on the wallet.  Next time I make them, and there will be a next time, I’m going to make a sauce to go with them.  I’m thinking something creamy with lemon and capers.  I think these could also be great as a mini version for an hors d’oeuvre.  We ate them with a mixed green salad and it was a really satisfying lunch.

chilling before you saute helps them stay together

By the way, I have a terrific source for very high quality tuna.  I buy it from vitalchoice.com and although it might be one of the more expensive tunas, it’s also the absolute best and Vital Choice doesn’t use BPA in their can liners.  Thank you, Vital Choice!  This tuna has minimal mercury and is the freshest-tasting I’ve come across.  If you have a canned tuna that you love, please share!

Tuna Patties by Pamela Salzman

Let’s think ahead here.  If you want to put the patties together before you leave for the day, or before you start driving everyone to sports practices and music lessons, you can do that and then just saute them right before dinner.  You can add some oven fries and a salad or grilled vegetables for a very quick, easy and healthful dinner.  Or next year’s Mother’s Day lunch.  Hint, hint.

Tuna Patties by Pamela Salzman

Tuna Patties

Author: Pamela, adapted from simplyrecipes.com

Serves: makes 4 large patties or 7-8 smaller patties
  • 2 6-ounce cans tuna (if you use 5-ounce cans of tuna, decrease lemon juice and water to 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs (or crumbled crackers or mashed potatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (lemon your lemon before juicing it)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon water (or liquid from the cans of tuna) - omit if your tuna is very wet like some chunk light varieties
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (measure after it’s chopped)
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh green onions, shallots or chives
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (I used ½ tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper)
  • A couple dashes of hot sauce or tabasco
  • 1 large egg (I imagine you can substitute 1 Tablespoon ground flax meal mixed with 3 Tablespoons warm water. Just let it sit for 15 minutes before you add it to the tuna mixture.)
  • 3 Tablespoons unrefined olive oil or ghee
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter or ghee
  1. Drain the liquid from the tuna cans.  If the tuna is packed in water, reserve a tablespoon of the tuna water and also add a teaspoon of olive oil to the tuna mixture in the next step. If your tuna is soggy and not dry, do not add water.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the tuna, mustard, bread crumbs, lemon zest, lemon juice, water, parsley, onions, and hot sauce.  Add salt and pepper and taste for seasoning before adding in the egg.  Add egg to mixture and combine.
  3. Line a baking sheet or a tray with parchment or waxed paper.  To make a patty, shape some of the mixture into a ball and then flatten between your hands.  Place all the patties on the prepared tray and refrigerate for an hour so they don’t fall apart when you cook them.  If you’re in a hurry, you can stick them in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  4. Heat the oil and butter or ghee in a large skillet over medium heat.  Use less fat if you use a smaller skillet.  You want the oil and butter to be warm enough so that the patties sizzle when they hit the pan, but you don’t want them to be smoking.  Gently transfer the tuna patties to the pan and sauté until browned, about 3-4 minutes on each side.

Summer garden frittata recipe

While I was away last week, my husband thought it would be a great idea to refinish the cabinets in the kitchen.  No wait, we might as well do all the cabinets in the entire house, he thought to himself.  Why do those four words generally end up as a bad idea?  Why do people think that a small project might as well be a big project?  We had a simple plan.  Mr. Picky and I would go back East to bring Daughter #1 to camp while my husband brought Daughter #2 to camp and we would come back a week later and my house would look like nothing had ever happened except that my kitchen cabinets would look pretty and fresh instead of beaten up because I’ve taught a hundred cooking classes in my kitchen.

Guess what?  This is what my kitchen still looks like!  And so does the rest of my house until who knows when.  So yours truly is in a bit of a funk because she didn’t get to make and photograph the sure-to-be-adorable and tasty raspberry-blueberry-yogurt popsicles she wanted to post today for Fourth of July.  Pouty face.  And yours truly has been eating take-out since she returned home from Long Island on Friday night.  Verrry pouty face.  I’ll get to the frittata in a minute.  What I’d like to discuss is takeout.  I definitely struggle with finding places to eat when I do need to eat out.  Fresh, organic, seasonal prepared food is not as common as you would think, even in Manhattan Beach, California. So I’ve been to Le Pain Quotidien for breakfast two days in a row and Veggie Grill for lunch two days in a row and Whole Foods for one meal.  And here’s what I’ve got to say — holy $$$$$! friends.  How do people eat out all the time?  It’s downright unaffordable.  Not only that, it’s beyond difficult for everyone to agree on what to eat.  Dinner should not be a democratic decision!  Seriously, the last few days have totally reinforced what I have said about cooking at home being easier, cheaper and always more healthful.

Now let’s get to the frittata, which I photographed at my house two weeks ago and again at my parents’ house last week (two different frittatas, naturally.)  I was going to post this recipe next week, but like I said, my husband thought it would be nice to surprise me.  Pouty face.  In any event, a frittata recipe fits in perfectly with my anti-takeout sentiment.  Eggs, and therefore frittatas, are an incredibly versatile and high-quality source of inexpensive protein.  They are also very easy to make on the fly with whatever you’ve got in your kitchen/garden.

I prepare frittatas all year long varying the ingredients based on what’s in season.  Click here for a delicious swiss chard frittata recipe.  A few weeks ago, when I saw zucchini blossoms at our farmers’ market with beautiful, tender zucchini, I knew I had to make what I call “Summer Garden Frittata.”  It’s the frittata I make most often in the summer and it’s really about celebrating whatever my garden or market has to offer.  My family inhaled these last week.  You certainly don’t need to use zucchini blossoms, especially if you can’t find them, but I think they’re so pretty and they have a nice, subtle flavor.  The blossoms without a zucchini attached are the male flowers which basically just sit around the plant doing absolutely nothing while the female blossoms actually produce zucchini.  Why not put those males to good use?  I’m here to tell you that if you don’t find something for them to do, you never know what kind of trouble they’ll create for you.

Summer Garden Frittata
Serves: 6 (although when I'm hungry, I could eat a fourth of this frittata)
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil + additional
  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 3 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), ends trimmed and sliced thinly by hand or by the slicing disk of the food processor
  • Fine grain sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large eggs
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese or goat cheese or feta (optional, but I used feta in the photographs)
  • 5-6 zucchini blossoms (optional, I used 4 large ones)
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes or 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a 10-inch skillet, warm the olive oil. Sauté the scallions until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the zucchini slices and a generous pinch of salt and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, basil, 1 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir the cooked zucchini mixture into the eggs and combine well.
  3. Place the skillet back over medium heat and add a little extra oil if the pan seems dry. Pour the egg and zucchini mixture into the pan. Arrange the zucchini blossoms on the surface of the frittata or chop and scatter on top. Dollop tablespoonfuls of the ricotta and the cherry tomatoes around the frittata. Transfer skillet to the oven and bake until firm, about 40 minutes.
Alternatively, bake in a larger skillet for less time for a thinner frittata.

Or, cook gently over medium-low heat, covered until slightly set on the bottom, 15-20 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and broil until the top is slightly puffed and golden, about 3-5 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.