fancy but quick fresh tuna niçoise salad

Summer is looming and your consultants will be frothing away with stuff like ‘if it swims, it slims’ (and yet they still refuse to put semen into the syns directory, I could be ingesting at least 20 syns a day!) – so in honour of that, here’s a nice fresh tuna niçoise salad. Nice and easy to make and you can take the extra in for lunch the next day. But first.

We’re in the slightest of pickles.

I’ve mentioned before that we have some excellent neighbours and a couple of well…how to say it, less pleasant ones. Nothing too offensive you understand, no-one’s smearing dog shit under my door handles or playing Now That’s What I Call Profound Hearing Loss at all hours of the day, thank God, although we do have one distant neighbour who seems to have been building a tiny brick wall for at least a year. A year! I’m so shite with DIY that I call our handyman over to change the lightbulbs in our bathroom but I reckon even I could get the hang of bricklaying if I had a bloody year to go at it.

Anyway, aside from one odd soul bellowing at us because we had the temerity of allowing dandelions to grow on our pristine lawn, they’ve all been very quiet recently, which is lovely. Until the sign arrived. Yes see, Paul thought it would be a gas to have a giant ‘VOTE LABOUR’ sign delivered for the front garden – a proper yellow and red affair, nice and prominent – in the vain hope that anyone driving onto our street at 2mph might be suddenly swayed by this spontaneous piece of politicking. It’s about as subtle as a kick in the fanny with a steel-capped shoe.

I agree with the sentiment – I’m Labour through and through – and so it was hastily erected. Well. We’ve had looks. We’ve had shaking heads. We’ve had so much tutting that I thought the cat was eating chewing gum. Nets have been twitching as we walk past and there’s been so many pained expressions it’s like living on Hernia Avenue. However, it stays – it’s important to make a stand on these things before it is too late, after all.

Things came to a head the other day, though. I spotted two of our neighbours standing in our garden peering over the fence. Confused as to what they might be doing in our garden (picking dandelions) I trotted out and enquired as to how I could help. Turns out they were speaking to our neighbours on the left and didn’t need my intervention. I resisted the urge to point out it was slightly presumptuous to let yourselves into someone’s garden to have a chat – clearly they thought I was at work. I was so frustrated I let myself into their house and helped myself to their pension books.

I was letting myself back into the house when the old chap caught up with me and plucked fitfully at my sleeve – you could tell he wanted to get something off his chest. I gave him a beatific smile and asked how I could help. He wants me to take down the sign. It blocks his view. Now, the ‘view’ that he is talking of is the side of my house, but nevertheless, I’m always one to show willing. He explained that he could see it every time he looked out of the window and it was causing him distress. I, politely as I could, suggested it ought to stay because it was our garden and really, from his angle, all he’d see is the edge of the sign 50m away from him – I haven’t exactly put a wind-farm up. We did the dance of being super polite with each other but then he played his trump card – he was having heart issues and could barely walk.

I resisted the urge to reassure him that Jeremy Corbyn would make sure that the NHS was well-funded and send him on his way, and instead, being a kind neighbour, I’ve relocated the sign into our back garden where at least he can’t see it. I feel like I’ve been played, though. I keep switching between being a good neighbour and leaving it where it is and being a bad neighbour and having something like this installed in the garden:

I don’t know why they don’t ask me to design the manifesto cover.

Anyway, I’ll let you know of any further developments. Let’s do the tuna niçoise salad, shall we? Before we do I should point out that this is a recipe straight from Joe Wicks’ Lean In 15. We’re not following his diet, but his book is absolutely full of easily adapted slimming recipes and we’re adapting a few for the blog. To think I only bought the book because I was so taken by the sight of him on TV. I’m not saying he’s good-looking, but I’d crawl on my belly through a mile of broken glass just to listen to him fart through a walkie-talkie. You can buy his book here and it is one I genuinely recommend.

This makes enough for two big bowls – scale up or down as appropriate.

fresh tuna niçoise salad

to make a fresh tuna niçoise salad, you’ll need:

  • two eggs
  • 150g of trimmed green beans
  • 2 x 300g tuna fillet steaks (or, if you want to save money, a tin of tuna each)
  • 60g of cooked puy lentils (we buy Merchant Gourmet ones from the shop – 2 syns for 250g) (half a syn – and then it’s between two, so really quarter of a syn per serving)
  • two big handfuls of spinach leaves
  • 25g of sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped up (1.5 syns, then divided up by two)
  • a little balsamic vinegar

By my reckoning, it’s a syn per serving. Easy. You may spot that rather than using balsamic vinegar in its usual form we’ve used balsamic vinegar pearls. Exactly the same only they burst on your tongue and are delicious. Naturally, Slimming World’s syns database doesn’t have them. They’ve on Amazon though, not too bad, and they add a nice dimension to dinner!

to make a fresh tuna niçoise salad, you should:

  • boil your eggs for about eight minutes then drop the green beans in with them and boil for another minute or so – you want the beans to have a bit of crunch and the eggs to be slightly softer boiled than pictured (I was distracted making this by our fit postman)
  • to cook the tuna, squirt a good non-stick frying pan or griddle with a few sprays of oil (coconut oil if you have it) and get it nice and hot and carefully place the tuna steaks to cook
  • if you like your tuna raw in the middle like I do (but again, I was distracted) then cook only for a minute each side – or cook it through for a couple of minutes if you prefer
  • take the tuna out, season with black pepper and a bit of salt
  • assemble your salad by mixing the green beans, tomatoes, spinach and balsamic in a bowl, stirring it all together, then plate up with the tuna – sliced thinly if you like – and the egg cut in half
  • enjoy!

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Have a great bank holiday all!


budget week: tuna frittata with a boob of couscous

Who doesn’t love a boob of couscous? Eh? I’ve normally got some degree of couscous caught up in my chest hair since we’ve taken to buying the industrial-sized catering tubs from Costco and eating couscous for every meal where we can’t be arsed to cook. Seriously, it’s hard work being so hairy.

Mild hysteria yesterday when, after both getting in from work and GASP, discovering the TV was covered in a dust blanket (which would have needed oooh…around 3 seconds to remove, but we were tired), we went straight to bed for a lie-down. As you do. I was winding Paul up by putting my finger in his belly button whilst he dozed only to pull out a finger covered in soft, brown, lumpy matter. I genuinely fell off the bed in horror thinking it was faeces. How and why didn’t cross my mind. Paul woke up with a start (he tends to when I start shrieking, I’m like the campest alarm clock you could think of), saw the mess and looked equally confused.

Turns out it was a big old chunk of chocolate muffin that had spilled down his shirt whilst he wolfed it down in the car on the way home so I wouldn’t know he’d cheated on his diet. See? Some people find out their husband is having an affair through errant text messages or boxer shorts that look like a painter’s radio – I find out Paul has been cheating on his diet because his belly-button filled with chocolate. The poor bastard never gets a break, does he?

I managed to mortify him in Homebase yesterday when I told the woman behind the counter that the scented candle she proffered me ‘smelled like my nana’s house, and she’s been dead for four months’, then wandered off chuckling whilst Paul fished about for the Nectar card. I do that a lot, make comments and roll out of shot – we were once in ASDA behind someone describing (I think) a car crash by saying ‘first he thrashed it over to the left, then the right, then it span out of control and four people got hurt’, when I jokingly said ‘Sounds like one hell of a smear test that’ and disappeared into the magazine aisle. Paul’s still got the burns from the glare he got off the poor lady. Ah well. It’s all fun until someone gets punched on the tit.

Our house is still an absolute bombsite but at least, thanks to our excellent painter, all the painting is finally done. Excellent. Our cats decided to celebrate by dragging a bird through our cat-flap and splattering blood all over our hallway wall (Dulux Urban Obsession, since you ask). They’re kind like that. How I chuckled and clutched at my sides as I pushed them back out the cat-flap with the toe of my Dr Martens and put the lock on. I think they knew they had upset me, they spent the next thirty minutes silently meowing at the living room window before giving up and resuming licking their arses with their back legs stuck up like a big fuck-you-finger to common decency.

The other bit of good news is that my absolute legend of a dad has finished building us our lovely patio outside in the back garden. Whilst that’s smashing news for us as it means we can lounge about on our fabulous oak outdoor furniture, it’s bad news for anyone walking down the street as it means we can lounge about on our fabulous oak outdoor furniture, and they’ll be sick with jealousy. Well, perhaps not jealousy, perhaps nausea. What kind of noise does a sweaty back peeling away from wood make? Like pulling the last rasher of bacon out of the packet I imagine. They’ve got that to look forward to.

Anyway, that’s quite enough nonsense, I’m getting a pain from my back from typing this on the computer whilst sitting on a set of decorating ladders. The things I do for you lot. Tonight’s recipe comes with a warning: it looks absolutely bloody revolting going into the oven. I thought Paul had taken up regurgitating my food for me and good lord, the smell. But persevere, because it actually made a tasty little dish with plenty left over for the morning! So, tuna frittata – this serves six easily!

tuna frittata

to make tuna frittata, you’ll need:

  • 1 tin of tuna in water (62p from Tesco) (added benefit of being pole and line caught)
  • 2 shredded large carrots (Tesco Everyday Value bagged carrots – 53p – worked out about 10p)
  • 1 chopped onion (9p from Tesco)
  • 2 minced garlic cloves (30p for a whole bulb from Tesco, two cloves, let’s say 4p)
  • 100ml of 1% milk (5p – 2l from Tesco being a quid)
  • two wholemeal breadbuns (12 for £1 in Tesco, so 16p)
  • 8 eggs (12 free-range eggs are £1.75, so £1.15)
  • 1 chicken stock cube (everyone has stock cubes)
  • salt and pepper to taste (ditto)
  • parmesan cheese – now, here’s something you don’t necessarily need but let me tell you something – you’re better off buying a block of it and using it sparingly rather than chucking it on with gay abandon – so we’re going to call it 50p, given the block I buy is normally around £4 and lasts forever
  • optional extras: served with two packets of Ainsley Harriott’s couscous (nearly always £1 for two) and a big bag of rocket (£1.50) (add an extra 45p for the sides or come up with something else)

This dish uses the HEB of two people for the bun and a portion of someone’s HEA for the milk and a HEA for the cheese, but really, split between six, it’s nothing. Up to you if you count it. No syns though!

and so…

  • stick the oven onto 190 degrees
  • sweat the onion like a bad-ass, then chop the garlic up and add into the onions
  • in a bowl, tear apart the breadbuns and soak them in the milk
  • after five minutes, add the onion, salt, pepper, chicken stock cube and eggs into the bowl and whisk everything together using a hand-whisk or just good old elbow grease
  • throw in the tuna and grated carrot and mix mix mix
  • grease a pyrex dish of your choosing and slop your dinner into it, then grate 30g of Parmesan on the top
  • try to see through your tears at the smell and look and put it in the oven to cook for around 50 minutes – keep an eye on it mind 
  • take it out to cool and make up your sides – I cook the couscous simply by pouring boiling water on, no butter, putting it into a bowl and tipping it out – hence the boob!
  • enjoy

to gussy it up:

  • add frozen peas
  • more cheese
  • top the top with tomatoes
  • buy better tuna, though actually, the cheap tuna from Tesco is decent and fairly caught

to save even more:

  • spend a bit of money and buy a friggin’ microplane grater – it’ll make your garlic and parmesan go so much further, trust me. Get one here!
  • buy cheaper eggs – no guilt from me for suggesting this one – free range eggs are better, absolutely, but if you’re on the bones of your arse, meh. Free range doesn’t mean much these days, sadly;
  • more carrots to bulk it out!