I packed the saddest lunch with me to work last Friday. Well, maybe not the saddest, given that I’ve packed some pretty sad lunches with me in my time. Like the day in college where all I managed to scrounge together was a couple of Tablespoons of peanut butter in a Tupper ware. Or the day of cold leftover rice and a can of tuna mixed with mustard. These are the strange, pathetic things that happen when the refrigerator is virtually empty and I’m going somewhere for the weekend, so I put a moratorium on grocery shopping. Such was the case on Friday when my lunch consisted of a tiny limp dressing-less salad – saved from being entirely irrelevant only by the presence of a few chunks of avocado – and a piece of sprouted grain bread.
I think I was hungrier after I finished eating it than when I began. Then I decided to walk the 5 miles to a meeting I had to go to. It was sunny out for the first time in days and this had convinced me that walking was the best way to get from any given point A to any desired point B, which I think would have actually been true, except that the sun had not taken it upon itself to bother with melting the thick coating of ice on the sidewalks, so I wound up walk-skate-slip-sliding the 5 miles. By the time I reached my destination my stomach was growling loudly and angrily, and for whatever reason, the only thing I could think about was meat Stromboli. I probably would have eaten a stick at that point, but what I really really wanted was a Stromboli absolutely packed with lots and lots of meat. Feeling borderline deranged I rushed into a Whole Foods next door to where I was going, and when I beelined to the deli/cafe section, miraculously, they were serving Italian meatball Stromboli! Saved! My guardian food angel must have taken pity on me.
And now I have half a mind to make a giant meatball Stromboli some night to cut into portions and eat for lunch the rest of the week. Unfortunately, for the moment that will have to wait, but I think it would be bad karma to ignore the message that I was just sent about packing an adequate lunch, lest I make a habit of running to the store to plunk $7 on a slice of Stromboli no wider than my thumb. This leaves me pondering other delicious options, of which, luckily, there are many.
And here, is one of my favorites: curried tuna salad with apples and raisins and shredded carrots. Whether you think this sounds ingenious or ridiculous, I will begin by telling you that I totally ripped the idea of this sandwich from the insuperable Flour bakery and cafe. This actually means that I can assure you that the sandwich is, in fact, ingenious because it is the brainchild of Joanne Chang and her team who make some of the tastiest sandwiches, breads, scones, and other lovely morsels that I have ever sunk my teeth into. Their roast beef sandwich is an ambrosial stack of meat, horseradish mayo, crispy onions, and roast tomato. Sadly, anything that involves deep fried onions is not an everyday food. This tuna sandwich, though, is a bit less decadent but every bit as delectable. And, though I don’t stock Flour’s buttery tender focaccia bread, the rest of the sandwich is quite easy to recreate at home.
You may have thought that adding curry was only for chicken salad, but my friends if you thought that you were quite wrong! The sweet spicy fragrance of curry blends wonderfully into tuna and also sends any fishy flavor packing. A small handful of apple pieces and raisins adds crunch and sweetness, and a mixture of mayo and yogurt gives both unctuousness and tang in addition to a creamy texture. With a couple of minutes and the stir of a spoon you have a tuna salad that is both simple and grand, filling and fresh. And, it will leave you with absolutely no need to run looking for anything else. Well, until you want another one tomorrow…
Curried tuna salad sandwich (makes 2 sandwiches)
- 4 slices of good bread, like focaccia or multigrain
- 1 can tuna, drained
- 1 Tbs. mayo
- 1 Tbs. plain yogurt (you could also just use mayo or just yogurt, if you’re a purist)
- 1 tsp. curry powder
- 1/2 of a small apple, chopped into small pieces (or 1/4 of a large apple)
- 1-2 Tbs. raisins, I like golden raisins in it the best, but any kind you have works
- baby lettuce
- 1 carrot, shredded
- a couple of slices of tomato or red bell pepper, if they’re in season
Toast your bread. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the tuna, mayo, yogurt, and curry powder and stir well. Then stir in the apple and raisins. Top 2 of the bread slices with some lettuce leaves, a few good scoops of the tuna salad, a slice or two of tomato/pepper, and a nice pile of shredded carrot. Top each sandwich with the other piece of bread. Serve, or pack into lunch containers for later