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Tuna Salad w/ Wasabi Vinaigrette

My sister died unexpectedly seven weeks ago. It was a tragic accident that I never thought would happen to anyone in my family. It’s strange how time slows down after experiencing the loss of someone close to you. I find myself pondering lots of existential questions and trying to make sense of everything. It’s so easy to just give in to the darkness and say, “fuck it” to the world. I did that for the first several weeks. I needed to cry and wail and feel the anger, sadness, and regret. It made me feel better temporarily. I still walk around feeling empty and very alone much of the time. I know these feelings will pass, and life will become bearable again, eventually.

Mr. K and I took a spontaneous trip to Connecticut over the weekend. We needed to get away and take time for ourselves. It felt restorative to walk along the water, breathe in the fresh air, and just observe people living their lives. I want to savor the sweet moments that I have with my loved ones. I keep wondering how much time is left for people that I love. It’s just where my brain often goes these days. I recently re-watched the finale of Six Feet Under, one of my favorite dramas. I had forgotten that Nate dies shortly before the show ends. The show does a beautiful job of portraying all of the messy and complicated feelings that people experience when they are grieving. When you lose a family member, you have your own grief to contend with, but you also want to be there for the remaining family members who are also grieving. Some days, it can be tricky to do both. At the very end of Six Feet Under, Claire is driving off to NYC to start a new chapter of her life, and while she is driving, we flash forward and see how and when each main character will die. Before Claire leaves, she tells her mom she doesn’t want to go to New York, but instead wants to stay there with her family. The response of Claire’s mom is extremely beautiful and gut-wrenching. She essentially tells her, “No, you are not allowed to stay here. Go and live your life.” That is the dilemma we face after a loved one dies. Part of us wants to die as well, but the best thing we can do to honor our loved ones who have died is to live a meaningful life. Most of us won’t ever know how much time we have left on earth, but we can be brave and live life with a curiosity, openness, and compassion that would make our loved ones proud.

I have only prepared a fresh tuna dish once or twice in my life. I need to do it more often, because it’s delicious as well as healthy. And so much better than the canned version. This salad is perfect for hot summer weather, as it only takes a few minutes to sear the tuna. Enjoy, and have a great week!

Tuna Salad w/ Wasabi Vinaigrette
Adapted from Rachael Ray

Yield: 1 serving

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes
  1. Coat your steak with a combination of five-spice powder, salt, and pepper. Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan, and heat pan over high heat. Add tuna steak to the hot cooking surface and sear tuna 2 minutes on each side. Remove tuna from heat.
  2. Combine greens, scallions, cucumber, avocado, and tomatoes in a bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk wasabi, vinegar and soy sauce. Whisk in remaining 2 Tbsp. oil to combine dressing. Drizzle dressing over your salad and toss to coat evenly. Slice tuna on an angle and arrange on the salad.

Ricotta-Pea Ravioli with Mushrooms

DSC_5858It feels good to be lounging around my apartment on a Saturday morning again.  I’ve been away the past two weekends, first to Maryland to visit my in-laws and then to Philly to meet up with my mom.  Both trips were enjoyable, but it’s always nice to be able to sleep in on a Saturday morning in your own bed.

I’ve been thinking a fair amount about what life will be like after one (or both) of my parents die.  I’m not someone who dwells on death by any means, so it’s a bit new for me to be spending time pondering this.  Maybe it’s because one of my grandmas was recently moved into a nursing home.  She isn’t doing so well.  My other grandma has been in a nursing home for a few years now.  I know it’s a bit of a leap to go from that to, “Oh my gosh, my parents are next,” but I’m in no way prepared to say goodbye to either of my parents.  One of the interesting things about living far away from them is that they appear to age so much faster.  I typically only see them once a year, and besides the gray hair, etc. that comes with aging, I’ve started to notice a change in the way they carry themselves.  They are not the middle-aged parents that I left behind 12 years ago when I moved to NYC.
DSC_5834I am trying to be more present when I spend time with them.  I want to take it all in, and just enjoy who they are without wanting to change them.  When my husband and I were in Maryland, my mother-in-law agreed to show me how to make a few of her recipes.  One of them was Mr. K’s favorite dish, and another was my favorite dish.  Of course, being an Indian woman, absolutely nothing was written down, so it was a lot of, “About this much cumin, and about this much rice.”  After a few times of asking what the equivalent measurement would be and not getting a straight answer, I finally just started frantically scribbling down everything she showed me in the hopes that I will be able to replicate these recipes with some semblance to the way she makes them.   She is an incredible cook, and what’s more, my husband considers her cooking true comfort food.
DSC_5848Last weekend I was in Philly with my mom.  She brought along some scrapbook cards that we have been sending back and forth to each other to fill out over the last year or so.  One of the questions I had to answer was,  What Were You Good At As A Child?  I put down that I was a good speller, since I remember winning at least one spelling bee as a kid.  But then I answered another card with the same answer apparently, which caused my mom to ask incredulously, “Did you think spelling was the only thing you were good at?” while laughing uncontrollably.   We had one of those wonderful and rare moments where she started laughing, which caused me to start laughing, and then neither of us could stop.  Supposedly, I was good at other things, like math, but I don’t buy it.  She also told me that I was dyslexic and had to see a reading specialist the summer before kindergarten.  From what my mom says, I absolutely adored this specialist, but I have no recollection of her whatsoever.  Isn’t that strange?  Someone who was so helpful to me and brought me so much joy, and yet I have no memory of her.  The brain is so mysterious.  It was great to have a weekend with my mom.  I missed her the minute I hopped on the train back to NYC.
DSC_5849Ricotta-Pea Ravioli with Mushrooms.  It screams spring, doesn’t it?  Using wonton wrappers makes this recipe very approachable.  I love the sweetness of the peas, combined with the creaminess of the ricotta.  If you want more umami flavor and saltiness, which I did, feel free to add some (cooked) bacon to the filling.  The original recipe called for shaved asparagus to be added at the end, but I left it out.  This is yet another recipe that I could not stop eating, and was sad when I had my last serving of it.
DSC_5855Ricotta-Pea Ravioli with Mushrooms
Adapted from Cooking Light

Filling:
2/3 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (about 2)
5 teaspoons chipped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
16 ounces (2 1/2 cups) mixed mushrooms (such as shiitake, cremini, and oyster)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Remaining ingredients:
Wonton wrappers
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. To prepare filling, combine the first 8 ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
2. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet, and put 12 wonton wrappers on baking sheet.  Fill small bowl with 1/4 cup room temperature water.
3. Spoon 1 1/2 teaspoons filling mixture on each wonton wrapper.  Dip finger in water, and moisten all four edges of wonton wrapper, as you go along.  Place another wonton wrapper on top of moistened wrapper, pressing around filling to seal.  Repeat procedure with remaining wrappers and filling mixture to form 24 ravioli.  Cover with dishcloth (to prevent drying out) and set aside.
4. To prepare sauce, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and next 3 ingredients (through mushrooms) to pan; cook 8 minutes or until mushrooms are browned and tender, stirring occasionally. Add broth and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 4 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Remove from heat; keep warm.
5. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add 4 ravioli to each pan; cook 3-4 minutes or until ravioli float to the surface. Remove ravioli from water with a slotted spoon. Place ravioli on a tray, making sure they do not overlap; cover and keep warm.
6. Place 4 ravioli on each of 6 plates; top each serving with 1/2 cup sauce.  Sprinkle each serving with 4 teaspoons cheese.