The dog days of Summer have yet to appear in Southern California. Not that I am complaining – it’s beautiful and sunny during the day and so cool at night that eating outside requires a sweater. We know this paradise can’t possibly last but we are all enjoying it.
My grill has been working overtime nonetheless and, with the arrival of my mother, I feel as if I am constantly cleaning the kitchen and my life has become a long sequence of meals. She has taken over the cooking duties (and most other household duties – yes, it feels wonderful and I am savouring every second I don’t spend mopping), with my services chiming in when I feel like it, and my slightly ethnic offerings a hit and miss. Paella – just ok, “not the same as they make in Spain and why don’t you have a proper paella pan anyway?”. Berry English pudding with whipped cream: “Excellent – can I have the recipe?”. Baked Camembert with rosemary: “This is so fattening!”.
Ovens and stove get used as little as possible and platters of salumi, cheeses, caprese and the classic prosciutto with melon end up being called dinner. Last week, a childhood dish, one of my sister’s favourites, resurfaced, a sort of tuna loaf – polpettone di tonno, in Italian. The recipe is so simple and tasty that I wrote it down while my mother was making it so I could share it with you. The proportions can be multiplied easily and the end result keeps in the fridge, properly wrapped, for quite a few days.
The recipe has been in my family since I can remember but this is the kind of dish of murky origin of which every “nonna” has her version.
RECIPE – Serves 4
2 cans of tuna in oil (approx. 250 grams)
1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
3/4 Cup Parmesan, grated
- Drain the tuna and place it in a large bowl with the eggs, the bread crumbs and the Parmesan. Mix everything with your hands, not with a spoon, until well combined. Form the mix into a log.
- Wrap it tightly in wax paper and tie it with kitchen strings.
- Place a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Place the tuna loaf in the boiling water and let it cook for about 20 minutes.
- Remove from the water and change the paper. Re-wrap it tightly, let it cool and put it in the fridge with some weights on top for a few hours.
- When ready to serve, slice it and decorate it with some capers and olives. Serve with mayonnaise on the side.