We spend a lot of time in the Russian River area, and there are certain spots we have to hit on every trip otherwise it just doesn’t feel right. The Cape Fear Cafe in Duncan Mills is one of those spots. They have a wonderful, diverse menu, and though I always intend to order something different, I get the same thing every time–the tuna salad. It has everything in there–nuts, fruit, vegetables–and a great balsamic dressing. This recipe is an attempt to take the knife and fork out of the equation and have a little bite size version of that salad. There are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, hence the name. Feel free to treat any one of them as optional.
To give the sandwich a little extra zing without making it too messy, I’ve added a balsamic glaze. It’s basically Lidia Bastianich’s recipe. It’s a great item to have on hand to drizzle over meat, veg, yogurt. Kept in a jar in the refrigerator, it will last until the next ice age. If it gets stiff, just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to loosen it up. Spread under the tuna salad, it adds a bright, tangy note to the sandwich. Yes, you could use balsamic dressing but… this is better.
And this post marks the beginning of a commitment to give metric measurements for all ingredients. Wish me luck… I will slowly start to integrate those measurements into the existing recipes, and I will do a separate post on this topic for general reference.
Kitchen Sink Tuna Salad Sandwiches (makes approximately 12 rounds)
1 loaf whole wheat bread
1 – 5 oz. (142g) can tuna (I prefer tuna packed in olive oil, but use what you like)
2-3 Tbsp. (30-45ml) mayonnaise
1 teaspoon (5ml) Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. (30ml) shallot, minced
2 Tbsp. (30ml) apple, minced (crisp, tart variety like Fuji or Granny Smith)
2 Tbsp. (30ml) celery, minced
2 Tbsp. (30ml) carrot, finely grated
2 Tbsp. (30ml) nuts, toasted and chopped (I used pecans, but almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts would all be nice)
1 Tbsp. (15ml) capers, rough chopped
1 Tbsp. (15ml) fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
Squeeze of lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Soft leaf lettuce, for garnish
Avocado, sliced, for garnish
1 Hard boiled egg, grated, for garnish
Combine the tuna, mayo and mustard in a small bowl, and mix until well combined. You might want to adjust the mayo and mustard up or down depending on what you like.
Add the remaining ingredients (except the lettuce, avocado and egg) and mix until well combined. You can add a bit of salt if you like.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the sandwiches.
Balsamic Glaze (makes approximately 1/4 cup or 59ml)
1 cup (237ml) balsamic vinegar–this is the time to use the cheap stuff
1 (5ml) teaspoon honey
1 bay leaf
Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Simmer over low heat until reduced to a thick syrup, about 45 minutes to one hour. Do keep it on low; it needs to reduce slowly. If you go too fast it will have an off burnt flavor. And run that overhead fan–balsamic vinegar in the air is like onion fumes, hard on the eyes and nose.
Remove the bay leaf. Skim any foam off the top. Store whatever is left over in a jar in the refrigerator.
To assemble the sandwiches:
Cut the bread into 2-inch rounds. Spread a layer of the balsamic glaze on each round.
Add a bit of lettuce. Add one tablespoon of tuna salad. Top with avocado slices and grated egg. You can make these the day before, cover them with a damp paper towel and store in an airtight container or on a plate under two layers of plastic wrap. You don’t want everything else in your fridge to smell like tuna. I would add the avocado and egg on the day.