Food & Drink

Canned seafood is just right for Lenten meals

Try canned salmon and coleslaw together.
Try canned salmon and coleslaw together.

When it comes to meatless Fridays during Lent in the metro-east, there is an endless supply of churches and other groups offering fish fries.

But, if you want to save some money and perhaps try healthier options, consider canned fish. It’s nutrient-dense and shelf-stable, making it a great choice for busy families, whether for lunch or dinner.

It’s also genuinely delicious, especially used in salads, crisp seafood cakes, pasta and more. And convenient.

Even if you’re a little behind in meal planning, as long as you have a few types of canned fish in your pantry, you have a meal.

And yes, it’s cheap. Both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods in St. Louis have house brand canned fish that is good-quality and inexpensive, and there are plenty of other options that are significantly cheaper than buying fresh or frozen seafood.

No, it’s not as fancy as serving a filet of salmon or shrimp scampi, but canned fish makes incorporating seafood into your weekly meal rotation during Lent, or any time of the year, convenient, tasty and affordable.

Salmon and Potato Cakes

About 9 ounces cooked salmon, flaked (smoked, leftover, canned or fresh)

1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 small white onion, finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup flour

1 cup bread crumbs

Salt and pepper

Vegetable oil

In a bowl, mix together salmon, mashed potatoes, parsley, onions, egg and flour. Season it with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Form into patties, then roll in in bread crumbs.

Add oil in a pan, then cook each piece around 4 minutes on each side.

Coleslaw with Canned Salmon

Cabbage and salmon may not seem like an an instant food marriage, but try it for lunch with a piece of toasted, crusty bread.

4 cups chopped green cabbage

1 bunch green onions, chopped, including green tops

1 chopped cucumber and/or finely chopped green pepper

7.5-ounce can of salmon, drained, and lightly crumbled and mashed, including nutritious skin and bone

Dressing (see below)

1 avocado, sliced or chopped

1/2 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

Toss cabbage, onion, cucumber/pepper and salmon in large bowl.

Prepare dressing and mix in with cabbage mixture.

Arrange avocado on top of salad, squeezing lemon juice over avocado to prevent darkening. Serve immediately. Keep chilled and it stores well.

Dressing: Combine 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons white vinegar and 2 teaspoons white sugar.

Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese with Tuna

3 cups uncooked baby shell pasta (or any small pasta of your choice)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 small onion, finely diced

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups half and half, at room temperature

2 cups grated cheese, your choice

Ground black pepper

1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

2 cans tuna in olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt generously and add the pasta. Cook until al dente as per the directions on the package.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Cook the onion until soft and add the flour. Mix well and cook for 1 more minute. Then, while stirring constantly, add the half-and-half gradually.

When the mixture is smooth, simmer gently, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens slightly. You want the sauce to be more runny than your desired consistency, because it will continue to thicken.

Add the cheese and stir gently until it melts completely and your sauce is smooth. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Add ground black pepper to taste. Mix to coat the pasta well and remove from heat.

Add the peas and flaked tuna, and mix gently to combine. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Taco Truck Tuna Sandwich

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 seeded jalapeño

1 (4-ounce) can tuna, drained

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Tortillas, for serving

Julienned radish, for serving

Sliced avocado, for serving

Purée cilantro leaves, olive oil, lime juice and jalapeño in a food processor; stir in tuna, salt and pepper; roll in a tortilla with radish and avocado.