Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tuna Stuffed Shells with Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette

The temperature today was 80 degrees. It broke the record high set in 1970, before I was born! It also forced me to get creative in the kitchen. I had to find something to cook that we'd want to eat on this hot day. It also had to be something that wouldn't require me to heat up the whole house while cooking! I decided to make one of our favorite meals and share it with you!

Before I get started, let me say that this is not a "Dana D Original" recipe. I have been given a couple dozen cookbooks as gifts. I guess it's no secret to my family and friends that I'm not that great of a cook! Anyway, Superman and I discovered this recipe in the 1996 edition of Betty Crocker's New Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Cook. Have I mentioned yet that this is one of our favorites?

This recipe includes two parts: the tuna mixture and the tomato-basil vinaigrette. Everything you need to make the entire meal is right here! I always start with the tomato-basil vinaigrette so that it has time to sit in the refrigerator while I do the other parts. This allows the flavors to have plenty of time to mix together. (It's even better if the vinaigrette has time to mix overnight!)

Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette:
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped (2 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate.
Note: Today I learned the hard way that red cooking wine and red wine vinegar are way different, and not interchangeable! (See, I told you I'm not gifted in the kitchen!) But it was remedied with a quick run to the grocery store!

Because it is December, most of the tomatoes I found weren't yummy looking! I decided to buy Roma tomatoes. I actually used 5 Romas instead of the 2 the recipe called for. I added a splash more of the other ingredients, too! That way I was guaranteed some leftovers!
From now on, I will always buy Roma tomatoes no matter the season. They were much meatier. They also had a lot less seeds than I expected. There were so few seeds that I didn't even bother to seed them!
This is what the Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette looked like once mixed.

To make this yummy tuna mixture, you simply combine the following ingredients. It can be served cold, warm, or room temperature. Tonight ours was room temperature, but tomorrow for lunch, we will eat it cold!

Tuna Mixture:
1/3 cup of Dukes mayonnaise (a true southerner would only use Dukes!)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cans solid white tuna in water, drained and flaked (12-13 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped onion
You can also add a shredded carrot and/or zucchini. However, with it being December, I didn't have any on hand!

The last step is to boil your jumbo pasta shells according to the directions on the box. I've found that by swirling the water as they boil, the individual shells don't stick together. Drain them and rinse with cool water. Then set them aside until you're ready to assemble your little mini-masterpieces!

Here's a glimpse of the finished product...

And I couldn't resist including a close-up of this juicy little bit of heaven! Believe it or not, this is actually a relatively healthy meal! We eat it often in the summer, when there are plenty of fresh vegetables available.

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that the only part that actually requires me to cook is boiling the pasta shells! Hey, even I can boil water!


inspired said...

What a beautiful job! You are quite the cook! I can't wait to try this recipe! We missed you today at the Christmas party! Are you coming to the Thursday night meeting?!


draymond said...

hi. i moved many times last yr. my fave recipes are missing! it was a notebook crammed full of my faves, including several from the book you got this one from. this is one of my most fave dishes e-e-e-ever! none of my other tradt'l books have this 1 but u do!!! so-o-o happy. probably coulda guessed but feel safer seeing the recipe. my husband eats it once in a while but i LOVE it! thanx! oh, sorry but i'm atrue southerner & i will never eat any mayo other than kraft original.

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