Friday, 29 January 2010

Pretty Little Individual Tuna Salads for Children

I'm trying to convince my daughter that a fresh, crunchy salad can be a meal on its own, and that crisp things are exceedingly delicious and well worth eating. It's not that Elinor is averse to salady stuff: like many kids, she happily eats lettuce, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and carrot sticks. But she pales at the sight of a huge platter of salad, and grudgingly eats just a little. Perhaps the problem is that an overflowing bowl of salad is just too intimidating for a 10-year-old child.

Plate by David Walters

Recently, having lunch at CafĂ© Bon Bon in Franschhoek, I was served a little leafy salad encircled by a cucumber slice, and it looked so pretty that I thought I'd use the same trick with a protein-packed tuna salad. (Look, I normally wouldn't be seen dead stacking food in a tower, but I reckon this presentation might just get Ellie to chow down.)  We'll see when she gets home from school.

You will need one of those cheffy food rings to form this salad: if you don't have one (and why should you, indeed?) take the bottom off the tuna tin you've just opened, and use that as a ring.

Pretty Little Individual Tuna Salads for Children

For four salads: 
2 large free-range eggs
1 English cucumber
iceberg or any other crispy lettuce, torn into small pieces
a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
a can of tuna, drained of its oil
8 calamata olives, stoned and halved
75 g feta cheese
chives, finely snipped

For the dressing:
4 Tbsp (60 ml) olive oil
the juice of a lemon
a pinch of salt
1 tsp (5 ml) honey

First make the dressing: whisk all the ingredients together and set aside. Slide the eggs into gently boiling water and cook for 9 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and set it under a trickling cold tap for 3 minutes. Rinse the cucumber and cut a 5mm horizontal slice off the long side to expose the flesh. Using a mandolin or sharp knife, cut the cucumber into horizontal slices, each about 1-2 mm thick. Place a metal ring (or similar) on a small plate and firmly press the cucumber slice around the inside to form a circle (you may need to use two overlapping slices, depending on the length of your cucumber). Cut any left-over slices into matchstick-sized pieces. Fill the cucumber ring with a mixture of lettuce, cucumber sticks, tomatoes, tuna, olives and feta. Now gently slide the food ring up and off. Repeat with the other three salads. Peel and quarter the eggs. Top the salads with the warm egg quarters and a scattering of snipped chives. Trickle the dressing over the top of each salad. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 salads.
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Nina Timm said...

That is just a fab idea, I am sure she will love it. U use the trick to make "light" savories whenever I am catering for a skinny group!!!!
Beautiful fresh photo!!!!

Koek! said...

Wow! Can I be a children too?

Sam said...

Hi, this salad looks devine! Great idea for a 10 year old to tackle. Thanks for sharing it. Lovely photo and I like your blog. I do sandwiches on my blog. Nothing serious, just fun between two slices of bread. More later, your new follower, Keri (a.k.a. Sam)

Marisa said...

So pretty!! Would make a sophisticated starter for a dinner party too.

Juno said...

Thank you all for the kind comments. Koek, I have to admit that I couldn't wait for Elinor to come home from school so I ate it myself. Sam, thank you, and I am off to look at your blog now.

Amedy said...

Good looking and colorful sure kids will love it

Spiele said...

sounds good and healthy also

Brett said...

With a 20-month-old son, I've come to appreciate the attractive BonBon salads and the great venue - though Joshua's love for their food has as much to do with the pleasant mood it gets me into as it does with the fact that cucumber slices make great duckling food.
Great blog, keep posting.

dining tables said...

I think this is a nice way to introduce my kids to eating vegetables.

Jeanne @ Cooksister! said...

I, on the other hand, have never lost my fascination for food in towers ;-) *Love* this presentation - and it would make a great summer starter for grown-ups too. Gotta get me some food rings...!

Kit said...

I was going to ask whether she was persuaded into eating it or not. I have the same salad reluctance thing with my 9 year old daughter, so one of these days I might just try this, as she likes most of the individual ingredients.

linda davidson said...

hi Juno, i made this dish for hubby on Sat. he was hot and bothered and tired from catering for a wedding. i made it all larger for him. he loved it. this is a winner for adults and kiddies alike. by the way your photo's are absolutely stunning!!!

Juno said...

Thank you for your comment, Linda, and for visiting my blog. Glad the salad was a hit.