I pulled the last jar of Tonnino Tuna Filets from my cabinet this week. I held it in my hands a few moments, thinking how little it resembled a typical can of tuna fish. The size and shape of the glass container made it look more like a jar of Kraft Old English Cheese spread.
My mind drifted back to those halcyon days when I was a young mother. I ate Chicken of the Sea tuna for lunch nearly every day. The canned fish showed up in the kids’ lunch boxes and in noodle casseroles topped with crushed potato chips. Ahh, those were the days.
Some months ago, I treated myself to a half dozen jars of Toninno, gourmet, 100% yellow fin tuna. I shared one jar with Robin and ate the others over the coming weeks. I had ordered them from Amazon, but was in hopes that I’d find some around town. The websites of Walmart, Whole Foods, and Kroger say they carry the tuna in their stores, but I’ve not yet checked. When Lucy and I browsed World Market last weekend, I discovered that they carry Toninno’s canned tuna with a flip top lid, as well as Ortiz Tuna, another luxury brand.
The jars that I bought on line were hand-packed in olive oil. (Of the eight Tonnino varieties, one is packed in spring water.) Testers say that if your tuna is canned with water, all the flavor goes into the water. Oil packing seals in both the flavor and the texture. The Costa Rican canning company also ups the taste of Tonnino by offering varieties that include jalapenos, oregano, lemon-pepper, or caper-garlic.
The company touts its product as low in mercury, gluten free, dolphin safe, and non-GMO. Looking for the best of the best? That would be their mild-tasting, firm chunks of yellow fin tuna belly labeled Ventresca Tuna Filets.
If you want to get a bit nerdy about the tuna you eat, you can trace the origin of your fish to the very boat that hauled it from the sea. Just go to the Tonnino website and input the expiration and package code.
See, Smell and Taste the Difference
A New Twist on Tuna Salad
I made my usual salad from the filets, adding celery, red onions, apple, lemon juice, lemon-pepper, parsley, Duke’s mayo and a bit of mustard. I even threw in some turmeric, because I’m always looking for places to add the healthy spice.
No doubt about it, these wild caught filets by Tonnino lift a sandwich, snack niçoise salad, pizza, pasta, or casserole to new heights. Be prepared to pay a bit more for this lofty experience.
Pasta and Tuna Become Friends
I came upon this recipe at Bon Appetit after chasing pasta-tuna dishes around the Internet for a few hours. It was just what I was looking for. It’s from award-winning cookbook writer and recipe developer Joie Warner’s book, No Cook Pasta Sauces. Joie suggests adding a small handful of black olives (Kalamata or Gaeta) and a large, ripe tomato, seeded and diced, for a delicious, colorful variation. She explains in the recipe below that she heats the tuna only indirectly, so it maintains its texture. Clever.
Pasta with Tuna, Lemon and Caper Sauce
- 1 6-oz jar Tonnino Tuna Ventresca, drained, or other good quality oil-packed tuna
- 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
- Zest of 1 medium lemon
- 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup fruity olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste (I omit)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbs. capers, drained
- 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Place tuna in pasta serving bowl and break it into large bite-size pieces. Add garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and capers and stir gently to combine. Set aside to warm to room temperature, or preferably, place the bowl (be sure it’s heatproof) over the pasta pot to warm the ingredients while heating the water. Once the water comes to a boil, remove bowl and set aside.
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain pasta well and immediately add to sauce in bowl. Sprinkle with parsley and toss. Serve with Parmesan cheese, if desired, though you seldom see cheese served with Italian fish dishes. Pass the pepper mill.
Makes 2 to 4 servings