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Mediterranean style tuna. Watermelon, fennel and feta salad

I have a friend who hates to cook and unfortunately, the proof is her pudding- prepared and packaged for the lunch box. Our back and forth cooking conversations center on her continued disbelief that I actually enjoy involved prep work to my incredulous reaction when she texts she burnt another, I stopped counting, roasted chicken. She still can induce laughter on my part when she reports a victory followed by instant defeat – the use of more than 5 ingredients in a dish, but forgetting to turn the oven on to cook it.

There are times I have some sympathy for my friend’s cooking aversion, especially in the heat of the summer or when crunched for time to get a meal on the table. I know I don’t have to preform laborious prep or turn on the heat to make a satisfying and wholesome meal. The solution is keeping a small but varied stock of condiments and specialty items in the cupboard to dress up whatever is on hand in the fridge.

Balsamic and red wine vinegar, spendy extra virgin olive oil (used for accenting a dish not cooking one) an assortment of canned beans (I’ld rather say legumes-but refrain), a variety of grains, pickled or marinated vegetables, condiments like whole grain mustard and chutney, and canned fish are a few of the regulars I rely on.

Mediterranean style tuna

Ingredients:

1, 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

2, 6 oz cans tuna packed in olive oil, drained

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar, or more according to your taste

2 Tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil, or more according to your taste

1 Tablespoon dried Italian herbs (basil, oregano, thyme mix)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1-2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Preparation:

In a medium bowl, toss together garbanzo beans, tuna, Italian herbs, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Add red wine vinegar and toss again. Drizzle with olive oil and add grated Parmesan.

Plate mixture over a bed of greens. Garnish with brined black olives, marinated artichoke hearts, pepperoncini (or hotter peppers if you like), hard boiled eggs-halved vertically, capers, and baby bell peppers.

Watermelon and Fennel Salad

Ingredients:

1 small seedless watermelon, chilled

1 large fennel bulb

1/4 cup Feta cheese, crumbled

Aged balsamic vinegar for drizzling

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Remove rind from watermelon. Cut pieces into triangles. Wash fennel bulb. Remove a slice from the bottom of bulb and discard. Thinly slice the remaining fennel bulb.

Place the watermelon slices on a platter or separate plates. Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to your taste. Top watermelon  with sliced fennel and lightly drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar. Top with crumbled feta.

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