Spa lunch … for dinner

SpalunchIn an effort to peel away the extra poundage we acquired consuming Southern food (plus the poundage we had prior to the trip), I’ve been trying to integrate lighter fare and lots more vegetable matter into our diet. One of my favorite light meals is a tuna-white bean salad. I riffed on it a bit last night, throwing in some artichoke hearts and laying some barely cooked asparagus (using our standard spicy-garlicky method) over for good measure. The salad was served in a bowl of butter lettuce leaves, so you could eat it as finger food by scooping salad into each of the cups of lettuce. DPaul liked it, saying it was like a spa lunch.

OK, so it could have been a little lighter. We only buy tuna packed in oil rather than water (because it actually tastes like something), and next time around I would use the artichoke hearts in brine rather than in oil as well. (In fact, the artichokes can be left out altogether.) But it fooled you into thinking you were eating satisfying diet food. Recipe after the jump.

Tuna-white bean salad
1 head butter lettuce
1 16-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 6-oz. cans chunk white tuna in oil, drained and flaked
1 small jar artichoke hearts, drained well, tough leaves removed, and chopped (optional)
1/2 small head fennel, diced finely
1 shallot, minced
3 Tbsp tarragon, chopped.
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 c. vinaigrette

Combine all ingredients except lettuce in a large bowl and gently stir to mix. Be careful not to mash the beans or tear apart the tuna too much. Salt and pepper to taste and chill in refrigerator for up to 24 hours. (Update: Having the leftovers for lunch today, it’s much improved for having sat overnight. The tarragon and fennel really came to rise.)

Separate leaves of lettuce, rinse and pat dry. In a bowl, lay 4 leaves to form a cup, and scoop the tuna salad in. Serves 4.

Spicy-garlicky asparagus
Several spears asparagus, trimmed
1 Tbsp red pepper flake
1 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed or minced
1/4 c. white wine
juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add red pepper flake and allow to bloom, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and saute until just beginning to brown and stick to the pan, another 2-3 minutes or so. Add asparagus, toss to cover in oil, then add wine. Deglaze any caramelized bits from the pan, toss again, and cover to steam the asparagus, about 5 minutes. When the spears are tender and slightly flexible, remove from heat, add lemon juice, toss one last time, and serve immediately.