Photograph. Copyright Sandra Gutierrez 2009
Happy New Year everyone! So here's the story this week. I recently organized a little luncheon meeting for a group of ladies and wouldn't you know that everyone wanted a light and lean menu! No surprise there, as most of us are still upholding our resolutions with quasi-religious fervor. A light luncheon it had to be but that would not deter me from making it totally delicious. And why not? Eating healthy can be scrumptious, indeed!
I love to entertain. However, one of the downsides of being a food writer is that guests often tell me that they feel intimidated to cook for me because they think I only eat "fru-fru" food. Not so fast, my friends. I think most of you will find that the majority of food writers are anything but hard to please; with a few exceptions, most of us are what I like to call "grateful eaters". I venture to say on our behalf that most of us are deeply thankful to be invited by someone who offers to cook for us, for a change. I personally don't expect the latest recipe from a culinary magazine to be presented to me in a perfectly manicured plate.
Now, before you think I'm wrangling for an invitation, let me tell you why I'm disclosing this. What most people probably do not know is that often, food writers, chefs, and culinary teachers also feel pressure when hosting guests in their homes. There is this unspoken expectation that the food will be avant-garde and worthy of a five-star rating. So...long ago, I decided that unless the ocassion warranted utmost elegance and proper form of etiquette, I would for the most part entertain only in a casual fashion. Thus, I removed the pressure felt by my guests who felt they would have to cook elaborate meals when they returned the invitation and from myself, freeing us to enjoy our mutual company and delight in good but simple food.
So for this latest lunch repast, I decided to offer a healthy tuna salad sandwich, paired with a simple, low-fat, soup. In order to make it figure-friendly, I simply dressed the salad with freshly squeezed lime juice--no mayonnaise, no oil. Scrumptious add-ins added crunch, color, fiber and tons of flavor; these were different enough to make it interesting, such as piquillo peppers and black olives. I took a trip to my local store for a good loaf of natural and organic whole wheat bread to make sandwiches. For the soup, I simply whipped together a quick, low-fat, corn chowder, which I embellished with chipotle powder for a smoky taste. The meal was readied in 20 minutes, as the chowder simmered while I prepared the salad.
To me, simple is better, as this meal proves. Everyone ate well, enjoyed the conversation and we got our work done, feeling good that we had also enjoyed a healthy and delicious lunch. The food was at the center of our meeting but was not the overriding theme.
And the best part is that someone else decided to organize the next meeting at her house. The theme of choice for our next luncheon? You guessed it! Soup and a Sandwich! Enjoy the recipe for my salad below.
Sandra's Healthy and Delicious Tuna Salad
2 (12 ounce) cans of solid white albacore tuna, drained well
1/2 English cucumber, seeded and chopped finely
1/4 cup chopped Piquillo peppers
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1/4 cup minced red onion
Lime juice, Salt and Pepper to taste
In a medium bowl, toss all of the ingredients together well. Season with lime, salt and pepper to taste. Makes 6 servings.
Copyright. Sandra Gutierrez 2009; All Rights Reserved.