Tuna Cups with Quick-Pickled Swiss Chard Stems

This is a quick little lunch that I whip up sometimes. Tuna salad is often a kitchen-sink dish for me, and this one became a way to use up some quick-pickled swiss chard stems left over from a salad last week.

I read a great tip on Food52 a while ago about keeping a bag of vegetable food scraps in the freezer. When the bag is full, pull it out and make vegetable broth. You can improve the flavor of tons of things with broth – cook rice, or lentils, or beans in the broth instead of water.

I’ve been tossing in kale stems and leek tops, but chard stems are too pretty for the freezer. Instead, I quick pickled them and waited for an opportunity to use them.

Tuna Cups with Pickled Swiss Chard Stems

Tuna Cups with Pickled Swiss Chard Stems (1)

Tuna Cups with Quick-Pickled Swiss Chard Stems

leftover swiss chard stems, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 cup vinegar of your choosing
1 cup water
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons curry powder

1 can tuna
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1 teaspoon whole-grain or dijon mustard
1/2 red onion, finely diced

parley, cilantro, or other chopped herbs

1 bunch butter lettuce

To make the quick pickles, put the chopped stems in a jar. Combine the vinegar (I used distilled white vinegar), water, salt, and curry powder in a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, poor the pickling brine into the jar. Cover with a lid and put in the fridge to cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine tuna, greek yogurt, mustard, onion, and herbs. Finely dice the pickled chard stems and combine with the tuna.

Peel leaves of the lettuce head off and fill with the tuna salad.

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Blackened Salmon + Big News

I can finally announce on these interwebs the exciting and fun things happening right now. I let my employer know last week that I will be leaving my position so I can attend school at the University of Illinois at Chicago for a Master’s in Urban Planning and Policy this fall! Better yet, my current employer offered me a part time position – a win-win since they can still use me for several projects, and I can still earn an income and go to fancy dinners.

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And… there’s more… between now and August (when school starts), I will be spending a month and a half in Central America! Two wonderful friends of ours are getting married in Cozumel, so we are flying down for a week of fun in Mexico. After that, I fly to Nicaragua to learn Spanish and travel! Here’s the itinerary:

June 28: Fly to Cancun, head to Cozumel, learn to dive!
July 3: Head back to mainland Mexico, explore ruins, caves, etc
July 10: Fly to Fort Lauderdale (due to odd routing, I will be spending two days in Miami)
July 12: Fly to Managua, Nicaragua, take Spanish classes
July 27-August 16: Work my way through Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama
August 16: Fly to Chicago from Panama City, Panama

Yay! More details on these exciting developments later, but for now: blackened salmon. Yum. Sorry for the poor quality of pictures – I snapped these around 9pm back in the day when leaving work at 5pm meant going home in the dark.

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Blackened Salmon

2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
1 fillet fresh, wild caught salmon

Mix the spices together and set aside. Coat the salmon with the spice rub and let it sit for approximately 10 minutes. In the meantime, heat a pan with some butter or olive oil to medium high heat. Pan sear the salmon until the insides are opaque and the outside is nice and crisp. That’s it!


Colombia Preview

I came back from Colombia on Tuesday evening to a cold but fresh Chicago. The cool air actually felt good. Clean. Thin. A far cry from the thick, sticky humidity of the Colombian coast. I’m covered in mosquito bites that I can’t stop itching, and I apparently still smell of the coconut oil rubbed all over my skin and hair just a few days ago on the beach in Taganga.

I’m still working on sorting through my photos (and videos!), but I thought I’d share a couple of the fabulous meals I had in Colombia. The fish was out of this world (and cheap!), and I’m sad to say I did not get a picture of any of the arepas I feasted on in the streets. Or empanadas. My favorite part of being in Colombia was the fresh tropical fruit. Mangos, pineapples, papayas… and those are just the fruits for which I know the English translation. There are all kinds of other crazy fruits that people sell – cut up for you in easy to eat pieces – and I have no idea what they were. Still, mango is my favorite, and I ate it every single day. Once it came dusted with salt, pepper, and lime juice. Seriously delicious.

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