I must admit I am a sucker for kitchen gadgets. So, this month I plan on featuring a favorite kitchen tool and related recipe, so you, too, can enjoy my passion. Just what you wanted, right?! I will also highlight some previous recipes that use whatever gadget I want to share and “wax poetic” over.
Maybe I have mentioned this particular tool before—in fact, I am sure I have. A kitchen is not MY kitchen if it doesn’t have a microplane in it. A microplane looks like a woodworking rasp, and indeed, that is where the idea originally came from. In 1994, a Canadian cook was bothered because her box grater was dull, so she borrowed her husband’s steel woodworking rasp to zest an orange—and history was made in the food world. The ergonomic handle is easy to grasp and the shaft is made of surgical stainless steel that “has been photo-etched to produce fine, razor sharp edges”.
Better than a box grater for many uses, the microplane is quick and easy to shred, grate and zest ingredients for savory or sweet dishes. It fits nicely in a utensil drawer, is easy to clean and is dishwasher safe. I know it will eventually wear out and need to be replaced, but I have had mine for 20 years and it still performs perfectly.
Use it for citrus zest; finely shred hard cheeses like Parmesan or Romano overtop vegetables or pasta, mince garlic or ginger, or shave chocolate over a simple dessert like pudding or fresh strawberries with whipping cream.
I have used the microplane to zest lemon in Allen’s Apple Bars and for fine lime zest and minced ginger in Broiled Shrimp and Broccoli. When I made Kofta, my microplane was perfect for grating onion finely; much less messy and easier to clean than the box grater.
My Tuna Dip recipe uses canned tuna, and definitely needs the perky, fresh flavor from lemon zest and juice. I also love to use my simple, streamlined red juicer when I need just a bit of juice.
This recipe makes the kind of dip that you can eat with a fork; I guess it should really be called Tuna Spread. Guests will need a small knife or fork to scoop it up and spread this winning dip onto—well—anything.
Serve it with vegetables, crackers, or toasted baguettes. You can stuff Tuna Dip into cherry tomatoes, or celery sticks for appetizers. Or use those great big, ripe tomatoes in summer for a wonderful lunch. And of course, you can always use it as a filling for a great sandwich!
It seems like I always have the ingredients on hand for this quick to make, satisfying dip that makes a beautiful presentation when surrounded by bright, gorgeous vegetables. Sometimes I add crackers or toast when carb-hungry kids are present.
After draining the can of tuna, break it apart into a bowl. The only critical step to remember is to mash the softened butter directly into the tuna prior to adding any other ingredients. If you try to stir all the ingredients together at once, you will end up globs of butter and pieces of tuna popping up in a most unappetizing manner.
So, when the tuna and butter are blended well, you can just toss everything else into the bowl. Then use a fork to incorporate the rest of the ingredients easily and beautifully into a thick mass of lusciousness.
I like to cut bell peppers into chunks rather than strips, so you can spread the substantive tuna dip onto each piece without having the tuna plop off. Carrots, cucumbers, zucchini are all good as circles or ovals—avoid stick shapes for the same reason. You want this dip to stay on the veggie and not plop off onto your shirt or the floor. Sometimes it is fun to run a fork all around the outside of zucchini or cucumber to create interesting edging on the slices.
I always think of my friend Tom when I make this; I think he enjoys it more than anyone else I know.
This is for you, Tom! XOXO
TOM’S FAVORITE TUNA DIP
- 6 1/2-7 Ounces Albacore Tuna in Water, drained
- 1/4 Cup Butter, softened
- Zest and Juice of half a lemon
- 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise, low-fat
- 1/4 Cup Green Olives, chopped
- 1/4 Cup Grated Fresh Parmesan or finely grated Swiss Cheese
Break up tuna with fork into medium bowl. Thoroughly mash in the softened butter until well blended. Add additional ingredients and stir until completely combined. Serve with raw vegetables, crackers, bread, or use to stuff tomatoes, celery, small cream puffs. Also good as a filling for sandwiches.