Cool Meals for Hot Nights – Tuna and Shells

Ingredients for Tuna and Shells

Ingredients for Tuna and Shells

The latest recipe in our “Cool Meals for Hot Nights” series is for Tuna and Shells. It comes from Annie, the creator and writer of {kidlist} activities for little kids, a resource for families in the near west suburbs of Chicago. If you have friends or family around Chicago, please let them know about {kidlist}!

Recipe: Tuna and Shells

serves: 4 prep time: 20 minutes

2 cups medium shell pasta (8 oz.) 1 (7 oz.) can of tuna, drained and flaked 1/2 cup celery (about 2 stalks), minced 1/4 cup sweet pickle, chopped 1/4 cup green pepper, chopped 1/2 cup swiss cheese, cubed 2 tablespoons white onion, minced 1/2 cup ranch dressing 1/4 cup greek yogurt 1 tablespoon milk 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1/4 teaspoon salt pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta until tender but firm. Drain and rinse with cold water.

2. While pasta is cooking, chop the ingredients. (I usually follow recipes exactly, but this is a recipe that you can estimate, change or add ingredients.)

3. In a small bowl, combine ranch dressing, yogurt, milk, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

4. Add all ingredients to large bowl and toss. You can put this dish in the refrigerator or serve immediately.

The original recipe describes how to serve as I have pictured: Place tomatoes stem-end down on lettuce leaves. Cut each tomato from top center down to about 1/4 inch from the stem end, making 6 equal sections. Spread sections apart. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Fill with chilled tuna salad. But let’s face it, we don’t have time to do all that frilly stuff! I usually just scoop some on a plate and my family likes it just the same. My mom would sometimes place lettuce leaves on the plate and scoop the tuna and shells on top, with some tomato wedges on the side; it is nice to add some color without a lot of effort.

I often double the recipe and use 3 cans of tuna instead of just 2 for more protein, chop an entire green pepper (because I never end up using the rest of the pepper anyway), use half sweet pickle and half pickle relish, and use equal parts ranch dressing and greek yogurt to reduce the dressing.

If you have some leftover and want to eat it the next day I would suggest adding a little milk to make it creamy again. The pasta tends to soak up the dressing and yogurt mixture, making it a bit dry.

See also Cool Meals For Hot Nights:  Crockpot Chili

Cool Meals For Hot Nights – Crockpot Chili

Several times throughout the summer I’ll be posting good recipes that will help you feed your family without making your kitchen much hotter.  This first recipe is my tried and true chili, but after this I’ll be sharing recipes from other bloggers around the country who write about events and activities in their own small communities.  Without further ado, here is the first in my “Cool Meals For Hot Nights” series:

Crockpot Chili

I know, you were expecting something like a cold salad or a grilled meat entree for hot nights, but honestly, sometimes you want something HOT on a hot night.  Chili is crowd-pleasing and delicious, and you can vary it by serving over rice, hot dogs, burgers, or with different toppings.  My favorite way to eat this chili recipe is to top it with chopped fresh cilantro and shredded cheddar, with a nice cold light beer to go with it.

This recipe is SO EASY to make, and so tasty to eat, that you will not believe it.  It’s perfect to cook up overnight when you know you’ll be gone all day at the beach or other summer outing, and you won’t want to deal with putting dinner together when you get home.

Crockpot Chili*

2 lbs. ground beef

1 onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 14 oz cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1.5 x 28 oz cans tomato puree

1 tbsp cumin

2 tbsp chili powder

salt and pepper to taste

Brown ground beef and drain, place into crockpot.  Add all other ingredients.  Cook on high 4-5 hours.

BAM!  Depending on how big your family is, one pot of this chili can last you several days.

*source:  I found the original recipe on the internet many years ago, and I have adapted it a lot to suit my family’s taste.  You should definitely add more chili powder if you like it super spicy!