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Friday, Aug 22, 2014
South Shore News

When the roulette wheel stops spinning, it’s dinner


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While in the depths of pasta and chicken doldrums several years ago, I concocted a little game called recipe roulette. Think “Wheel of Fortune” meets “Chopped,” and you’re there.

It’s what I play when I can’t think of anything I want to make for dinner.

Here are the rules: I select a trio of cookbooks. Eyes closed, I open each book and randomly open a page to choose a recipe, and then I prepare one of the three dishes.

Sometimes this random shuffle approach is exciting and sometimes it scares the heck out of me. But it’s truly a way for me to jump out of my bored-with-dinner rut.

So let’s get the roulette wheel spinning here.

Because I recently adopted the eat-nothing-white diet, as in no white flour, pasta, dairy and sugar, I pulled out three of my “healthier” cookbooks.

I first chose “Low-Fat No-Fat Thai” by Jane Bamforth. If you’re looking for a reason to de-rust your wok, I can think of none better than this cookbook. Though it may mean investing in a better wok or chasing down a few hard-to-find ingredients, the results are usually satisfying and impressive.

The page I opened to described duck breast marinated in a richly spiced curry. Preparing duck for dinner isn’t something I usually do. But I do love curry. And the dish’s selling point could be that it called for one medium-size butternut squash.

That was good because I had just purchased a hefty 12-pound squash that’s been decorating my kitchen counter this week. That’s an entire column for another time.

“This recipe has possibilities,” I thought.

Next, I opened “The South Beach Diet Taste of Summer Cookbook.” I’m not on the South Beach diet, but the recipes I’ve tried so far in this book have been simple, uniformly tasty, and each included nutritional information.

I’m excited to try new things and game to challenge myself, but I was a little concerned for my less-than-adventurous significant other with the tempeh burgers and horseradish aioli that appeared on the page before me. While cooked and slightly fermented soybean patties work for me, I’m positively certain my partner would rather eat recycled paper. I had to pass on this one.

Last up was one of my newer cookbooks, “Good Housekeeping Light & Healthy Cookbook.” I must say I haven’t tried any recipes from this book yet. But when I got it I leafed through it and had marked page after page of things I’d like to try.

But that would be cheating in recipe roulette so I blindly opened the book to Tuscan Tuna Salad Sandwiches.

The recipe called for mostly ingredients I had on hand. (That’s always a plus.) Those included some of the items I always have stocked in our pantry are canned beans – white, garbanzo and kidney – and canned tuna packed in olive oil or water.

Served on whole-wheat pita bread, the cannellini beans and canned tuna in this recipe added a taste of Tuscany to this sandwich. And fresh basil, lemon juice and tomatoes added color and flavor.

It isn’t often I stumble across a dish that’s minimalist in every aspect – quick and simple with few ingredients, yet sophisticated or at least unusual and best of all, no-cook.

Ding, ding, ding! I had a winner!

Enjoy.

Lynn Kessel is a freelance food columnist. For more of her recipes, visit southshore.tbo.com and enter the search words Lynn Kessel.

Tuscan Tuna Salad Sandwiches

1 can (15 to 19 ounces) low-sodium white kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 can (6 ounces) unsalted tuna packed in water, drained and flaked

1 bunch watercress (4 ounces), tough stems trimmed and sprigs cut in half

4 whole-wheat pita breads

2 ripe medium tomatoes, (6 ounces each), thinly sliced

In a large bowl, mash 1 cup beans. Stir in basil, capers, lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper until well blended. Add tuna, watercress, and remaining beans; toss to mix.

Cut pita breads in half. Spoon tuna mixture onto pita halves; top with tomato slices.

Source: “Good Housekeeping Light & Healthy Cooking,” by the editors of Good Housekeeping.

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