Kitchen Notebook: Tuna Pasta Salad
At Visitation BVM, reactions to the meal were mixed. One student loved everything while others disliked one or more components. The salad was large enough for take-home for students' families who, we hope, are bigger tuna fans!
This Week’s Contributing Schools:
Team Up Philly at Daroff
Nyonnah's summary says it all:
The tuna tastes like joy
The tuna is popin (popping)
I wish we had cooking class every day (a statement that elicited me too's from the other students!)
— Elena Levitan
Kensington Health Sciences Academy
"I learned how much ingredients we need for the food. I learned that when we are cooking always hold the knife down."
"I learned to use less fat in some healthy food."
"It smelled really good."
"I would add more yogurt and mayo."
"Greek yogurt can sub for mayo."
— Hope Waller
Prince Hall School
Some of the Prince Hall students were nervous about their first experience using a sharp knife but learned quickly. They loved the bright colors and taste of the tuna pasta salad with dill and vegetables. "It's dill-licious," said Kimberlie. Amira Burton said, "I'm bringing some home for my mom because she will love this!"
— Lisa Ellis
A garden planted by children at Chester Eastside last spring provided fresh-from-the-vine cherry tomatoes and peppers called for in the recipe. Our chefs experimented by adding garden-fresh parsley to the recipe as well. "I feel good that we used our OWN vegetables," noted a proud Laila Daniels. Added Jeidalys Collado, "The dish had the colors of the rainbow, and it was fresh. The scallions made it a little sour, but that was OK."
— Sallie Anderson
After a few introductions of our two new students, everyone quickly got their chairs and washed their hands. They were ready to begin making tuna pasta salad. Four of the students wrote that salmon was their favorite fish. Nigina Ubaydullaeva was the only person who liked tuna. Not a good start. Susan Munafo (volunteer) asked the students to describe the following cooking methods: baking, grilling, sautéing, and boiling. Jane Pupis (volunteer) was surprised that together they could describe all of them. However, they did learn that water boils at 212 F, or 100 C. Next, we got all of the ingredients mise en place. Madina Azamjon and Marjona Asrova knew what fresh dill was because their moms use it at home. Juan Rivera helped Jane make the whole-grain pasta and peas. Susan showed Fred Moore how to cut using the claw method, and he diced and chopped very well. Dominic Bondarenko used a fork to flake the tuna once it was drained. Madina, Nigina, and Marjona helped to mix up the mayo and yogurt for the salad. Once it was all in the bowl, everyone got a chance to mix it up. "Wow, that's a lot of tuna salad," said Dominic. While it was cooling, they all got a lesson in setting the table. "Remember, fork is on the left (4 letters) and spoon and knife are on the right (5 letters)," said Susan. Finally, the tasting. Everyone asked for seconds, so it was a success. Some pushed the peas away, some didn't eat the tomatoes, but they all ate the tuna because it got mixed into the salad.
— Susan Munafo
McClure had an exciting second week of My Daughter's Kitchen. The girls are loving the responsibly of prepping and preparing the meals that we are going to eat. They are super-excited about trying everything that we are making. They are very eager and excited to do any job that is asked of them, especially the dishes. They are looking forward to our next meal together.
— Wendy Vandenberg
Bayard Taylor Elementary
It was a steamy day for our second week of cooking, and it quickly got steamier when we fired up the pasta for our tuna pasta salad. But our fifth-grade chefs wouldn't let a little heat drive them out of the kitchen.
They jumped right in when told their reward would be a cool, refreshing — and healthy — hot-weather meal.
Their optimism was evident from the start.
"I think I'm going to like this recipe!" said Syliani Ortiz as we went over the ingredients.
There was special interest in the unfamiliar foods, particularly the dill and scallions.
"It smells like pickles!" exclaimed Angel Luis Sanchez as he started chopping the dill. "Real pickles!"
As he worked the dill and cherry tomatoes, twin brother Angel Ezell took on the scallions, carefully slicing them crosswise before chopping them into small pieces.
Syliani smoothly handled the red bell pepper, and with a pair of forks Gabriel Rodriguez learned the meaning of flaking when it applies to fish.
With each cook assigned a task, the prep moved swiftly as the whole-wheat pasta boiled.
"We learned teamwork," Angel Luis said later. "If one person did this, it would take a long time."
With all the ingredients ready, the team eagerly plunged in to mix them with the yogurt and mayonnaise sauce. They were pleased at how colorful it was and couldn't wait to see how it tasted all together.
"I'm going to try everything," Syliani announced.
The young cooks liked some ingredients less than others, notably the peas and bell pepper. But overall, the meal got good grades: "Five stars." "8 out of 10." "9 out of 10."
"The tuna was the best part," noted Angel Ezell. "The ingredients were good individually but together they were amazing."
Syliani gave the highest compliment. When a friend came by our table in the cafeteria, she exclaimed: "Look what we made! Do you want some?"
— Linda Molloy and Peter Landry
We were met with much excitement and big smiles today. The students barely finished greeting us when they began to ask about the class recipe and what chores they could begin. Genesis was a bit skeptical about eating tuna but promised to try it. The girls were fascinated with fresh dill, as they had never seen it before. They commented that it looked like "leaves on a tree." When asked what she liked most about the meal, Genesis replied, "The tuna"… the one ingredient she thought she didn't like.
— Angela Burke and Cindy DePasquale
Robert B. Pollock School
Day-jha Blades, Patricia McCants, Hailey Munguia, Alina Shashkova, and Viktoriia Shashkova were all very skeptical going into the kitchen this week. Three out of the five girls have never eaten fish before. The most exciting part was watching them get familiar with the different types of vegetables we were using and expressing how scallions are their new favorite. They were all very encouraging with one another, especially when Viktoriia announced, "We have to at least try it to see if we like it."
— Kristen Smith
The peas and tomatoes weren't popular with the students, but they were excited to learn that scallions are part of the onion family, and we all enjoyed using fresh dill. In fact, they said, "Dill smells like being outside in a garden," and they thought twice as much as the recipe called for would make the tuna pasta salad even better.
The mini-chefs are ready to go! They had a practice run last week and now they're ready to chop. They are hungry and are happy that all the ingredients are familiar and tasty. Ivan Zheng sampled the tomatoes, "They taste delicious and so sweet," as he popped one his mouth. Ava Stuchko predicted the dill and yogurt mayonnaise would taste delicious. As each mini-chef chopped, mixed, and stirred, the aroma in the kitchen started our mouths watering. Stella Chau exclaimed, " The pasta, peas tomatoes, and peppers look so colorful." Travis Chopyak remarked, "I chopped peppers while at Cub Scout camp this summer. Now I am a pro." Winni Zheng excitedly said, "This is the perfect blend of sweet and spicy — the tomatoes and scallions are perfect together."
The chefs became quiet as each one sampled the dish. It only took a few seconds for the unanimous thumbs-up. Everyone agreed they could make this at home for their family. It was an easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy recipe.
— Cindy O'Donnell, Lorrie Craley
Today's session included more than measuring, dicing, and eating. Volunteer and school nurse Annaliek Van Laar shared interesting information, like the relationship between dill and fennel, the benefits of fiber in our diet, and other names for scallions. She also led a discussion on how students could make healthy modifications to our tuna pasta recipe. Ethan Santiago said he would add green beans, Joseph Acevedo declared broccoli as his choice, and Zaniyah Robertson suggested carrots. It was everyone's first experience with this type of pasta salad, and all gave it "thumbs-up."
— Susan Lore, Annamiek Van Laar, Edith Bobb
Sacred Heart students Ja'Niyah Kellum, May'neajah Baylor, Rahsaan Jones, Tierrell Perry, and "guest attendee" Reggie Hernandez ran in ready to get to work. Dill and scallions were new ingredients for everyone. Our tuna pasta salad received mixed reviews, but as May'neajah said, "I am not a big fan of tuna, but I loved the cooking part."
— Susan Harris, Lisa Hendrickson
St. Augustine Academy
We have a confident, enthusiastic group of young cooks this year. After reviewing safety and knife skills, the chopping and dicing began.The tuna pasta salad got two thumbs-up. Our taste-testers concluded it was a bit dry, so a spoonful of yogurt and mayonnaise was added. Keymoni Thornton decided that she would make it again, replacing the peas with her favorite veggie: snow peas. Brynn Mitchell said, "This needs more bold flavor" and added a pinch of extra salt and pepper. All five cooks decided they would add some red pepper flakes or hot sauce to kick up the flavor next time.
— Cheryl Pfeiffer and Welcome Furber
Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary School
Week 2 offered a number of opportunities to develop important cooking skills. The recipe of tuna pasta salad required measuring and chopping several kinds of vegetables, and the pasta had to be boiled to al dente. Once the salad components were assembled, a mayonnaise and yogurt dressing was added. To avoid breaking up the ingredients, care was taken to mix the salad gently by using two large spoons to lift and fold rather than stir the salad.
Reactions to the meal were mixed. One student loved everything, while others disliked one or more components. Not many tuna enthusiasts. Barbara, one of the cooking instructors, asked what might be substituted for the disliked elements. Suggestions included: broccoli vs. peas; potatoes (a la salad Nicoise) vs. pasta, and salmon rather than tuna. The salad was large enough for take-home for students' families who, we hope, are bigger tuna fans.
— Maria Brown
We had all seven students this week, and since we doubled the recipe, we had plenty of jobs to go around. When we first went over the recipe, there were a couple groans about peas being added to the pasta salad. We also had some cucumber left over from our snack, so we added that as well.
Most were pleasantly surprised with the results and commented about how colorful it was. They also loved the smell of the dill. Juliana Carrasquillo said she would have enjoyed it more without the peppers. Ariana Lipford thought corn would have been a good replacement for the peas. And Alexandro Rosa was happy he learned how to make a new savory dish.
—Maureen Barrett and Mariann Owens