Cooking with the Seasons – Tuscan Tuna Salad

IMG_6734The longer I live in California, the more I appreciate the year-round accessibility to fresh produce. We are supposed to eat with the seasons and this leaves you with plenty of options if you can call this place your home. The one thing that doesn’t change, however, is that I cook with the seasons. Meaning that I follow my intuition on which warming or cooling foods my body craves depending on the environment around us. In the macrobiotic diet this is called the Yin (summer style) and Yan (winter style) of cooking styles. So now that the hot climate is around the corner, we welcome spring with a slew of fresh salads that keep us cool while still be filling and satisfying. My current favorite is this Tuscan Tuna and White Bean Salad inspired by the restaurant fish in Sausalito. Come and cook with us!

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to nutrition but I like to think that one can take ideas and inspiration from different sources. The belief that there are expansive and contractive foods and cooking styles is something that speaks to me. Don’t you agree that eating a hot comfort dish makes you feel warmer inside while you probably crave something more refreshing and light to cool you off when it is warm? Here are a few cooking style ideas based on Kristina Turner, author of The Self-Healing Cookbook, a macrobiotic primer for heating body, mind and moods with whole, natural foods. It was originally published in 1987 but to me her theories still hold true. She even included a chapter on why eating organic produce makes a difference. Talk about being ahead of the curve.

But back to seasonal cooking styles. In warm weather, Turner suggests the following:

  • Steam, quick-boil or make salads
  • Serve cool or at room temperature
  • Eat lighter-more upward growing foods
  • Choose soft, leafy greens
  • Use less salt
  • Enhance with vinegar, lemon, fresh ginger, parsley or other fresh herbs

When it comes to the colder winter months, Turner says this:

  • Slow-simmer, pressure cook, bake or sauté
  • Serve warm
  • Eat hearty – more compact veggies and downward growing roots
  • Choose sturdy, leafy greens
  • Add a little sea salt, miso, tamari or sauerkraut
  • Enhance with green onion, sea vegetables, ginger or dried herbs

With this as a back-drop, there are plenty of easy, fresh and colorful salads that inspire me this time of year. To bridge this transitional period when days are hot and evenings are cold, I’d like to share a salad that is both refreshing but also hearty, and clearly not very macrobiotic: Tuscan Tuna and White Bean Salad. It’s crunchy in texture, decisive in flavor and made in a jiffy. And while it’s certainly not something I make all the time – being contentious about eating tuna – sometimes we just have to listen to our bodies and prepare what it is calling out for. Hope you like the salad as much as we do. Come and cook with us!

Tuscan Tuna and White Bean Salad

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