It is always a fun thing to learn a new way to jazz up a kitchen classic. In this case, it is tuna salad. I was flicking through the channels the other evening, and made a stop at one of my favorite shows hosted by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. I have had the pleasure of meeting Ina on numerous occasions, and find her easy style incredibly comfortable and approachable. This tuna tapenade is no exception. She was making it as an appetizer on crostini. I thought it looked substantial enough to make it into a sandwich–which is what I did. It is a complex mixing of flavors, which really makes for one interesting and yummy lunch. Here is what I whipped up, with just slight variations to her recipe, as I was not needing to make as much as her she was making.
Drain 1 can of the best tuna packed in olive oil that you can find, leaving just a bit of the oil in with the tuna. Ina called for Italian tuna, but my grocer did not carry any. I did, however, find a really lovely alternative. Truly, use what you can find. Flake the tuna into a food processor with the blade attachment. If you don’t have a food processor, I would think this could also be done in a large mixing bowl, and just manually mix things together. It will be chunkier in consistency, but still delicious. To the tuna add 1 teaspoon of anchovy paste, a half a teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves, 1 tablespoon minced parsley, 1 minced garlic glove, and a tablespoon of fresh lemon zest. Pulse a few times to incorporate. Then add 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice from the lemon you just zested. Both the zest and the juice are a tad more than she called for, but I really like the burst of freshness the lemon adds to this. Next add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese. You can now see why this is all so tasty, with such complex flavors. Pulse again till smooth. Almost there. Now add 2 tablespoons of pitted and chopped kalamata olives, and 2 teaspoons of drained capers, along with a pinch of salt & pepper. Pulse again, till all is mixed in. Transfer to a bowl, wrap, and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour so it cools and the flavors have time to marry.
I spread it on a baguette for a simple sandwich. The flavors are out of this world. I hope you enjoy.