My friend Janet had some minor foot surgery last week and I wanted to bring her something that would last for a few days and be easy to eat when she hobbled from the fridge to the table. I didn't have time to go shopping and do the meal delivery, so I used what I had. I found several cans of very good Italian tuna in olive oil. I had been to the farmers' market a few days before, so I had regular and cherry tomatoes in nice colors. Capers are always on hand, as are a few stalks of celery hearts, Armenian cukes, red onion, and canned white beans.
I lined a big plastic container with lettuce leaves, added the salad, and surrounded it with sliced tomatoes. Then snapped on the lid.
Just before heading out, I called Janet. She was just getting home from the pharmacy and was in terrible pain. "I have no appetite," she said, "but I appreciate the thought."
We dined on that tuna salad for days. I took it for lunch twice in a row. The tuna became steeped with the sherry vinegar and tasted good to the bottom of the bowl.
Tuna salad for a crowd
4 cans (7 1/2 ounces each) Italian tuna in olive oil
2 cans (15 ounces each) white beans, drained and rinsed
4 stalks celery heart, thinly sliced on the diagonal
4 Armenian or pickling cukes, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced
4 tablespoons capers
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 cup sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 head Boston or romaine lettuce
3 small ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 pint golden cherry tomatoes, halved
1. Tip the tuna into a large bowl with several tablespoons of the olive oil from the cans (don't use it all).
2. Add the white beans, celery, cucumbers, red onion, and 3 tablespoons of the capers.
3. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently but thoroughly. Taste for seasoning and add more vinegar or oil from the cans, if you like. You can add more mayonnaise, but the dressing should be mostly oil and vinegar.
4. Line a bowl with the lettuce leaves. Add the salad. Surround with tomatoes. Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon capers. Sheryl Julian
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ContributorsSheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.
Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.
Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.