How to Make an Inexpensive, Fancy Dinner With a Can of Tuna: Make Crepes (Sourdough or Tortillas)
There is something about crepes that makes them seem "gourmet," although, quite frankly, they're simple to do. When you combine the crepes with canned tuna, frozen spinach, onions, and a mornay--also know as "cheese"--sauce, you've got a simple gourmet dinner. In this case, it's also cheap. Nonetheless, "cheap" doesn't mean poor. The tuna and spinach crepes are full of flavor as well as nutrition. After filling the crepes, you bake them briefly in the oven, which gives them a beautiful, golden topping, a little crispy on the surface and creamy smooth underneath. What about the crepes? I make sourdough crepes, which contribute a slight tang and additional savory flavor to the dish. I also make the crepes in advance and tuck them in the refrigerator, meaning I can put the crepes together in about 15 minutes and then pop them in the oven while I finish making dinner. Although I include a recipe for sourdough crepes below, feel free to use any savory crepe recipe you prefer. You can also buy crepes at some grocery stores, but, if you're going to go that route, I recommend using soft flour tortillas instead. They'll work, and they're less expensive.
Tuna and Spinach Crepes -- Makes 6
6 crepes, 7-8 inches in diameter
1-2 teaspoons of canola oil
1/2 cup of chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon of lemon pepper
8 ounces of frozen chopped spinach
15-ounce can of tuna, preferably Albacore but chunk light will work, too
2-3 tablespoons of Marsala wine or use a teaspoon of lemon juice
Coat a large baking dish (2-3 quarts) with non-stick cooking spray, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute it until it's transparent. Add the lemon pepper and spinach and saute the mixture until the spinach is cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the tuna, blending it into the mixture. Sprinkle on the Marsala and blend that in. Set the mixture aside in a large bowl, wipe the skillet out with a paper towel, and use the skillet to make the mornay (cheese) sauce below.
3 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of flour
2 1/2 cups of cold milk (I use 1 percent)
1 cup of shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and keep whisking for a few minutes. You'll have a pasty-looking mixture. Whisk in the milk gradually. Keep whisking, and the mixture should smooth out. After the sauce has thickened (this may take five minutes or so), whisk in 1/2 cup of the Swiss cheese and a couple tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese. Set aside about a cup of the sauce and add the remaining sauce to the tuna/spinach mixture, folding the sauce into the tuna/spinach well to bind the mixture.
Lay the crepes out and divide the spinach mixture among them, placing the spinach mixture on one side of each crepe. Fold the crepes over (you can roll them, if you want, but they may break, so why bother?), and place them in the prepared baking dish. Pour the reserved sauce over the top of the crepes and sprinkle on the remaining Swiss and Parmesan cheeses. Bake the crepes for about 20 minutes or until the top of the sauce is bubbly, golden, and a bit brown in spots. Let the crepes cool a few minutes before serving them.
1 cup of sourdough starter
1 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 1/4 cups of milk
2 tablespoons of canola oil
Whisk all the ingredients together until blended. Heat a 7-8-inch skillet and pour enough batter in to just coat the skillet bottom. Cook the crepe until the top is barely set. Flip the crepe and cook it 30-45 seconds longer. Slide the crepe onto a plate and repeat the process with the remainder of the batter. You should have at least 6 good crepes and probably will have close to a dozen (some might not be "perfect," but they'll taste good, nonetheless). Stack the crepes with a piece of waxed paper between each crepe. You can make and refrigerate the batter and cook the crepes a day or two later, if you like. The cooked crepes also can be refrigerated for 2-3 days and pulled out and filled when you're ready. Leftover crepes are great for breakfast, slathered on top with jam, rolled, and topped with a bit of vanilla yogurt.