Sephardic Recipes With A Modern Twist

Sephardic Spice Girls

Tuna À La Tunisian

Tunisian tuna salad may just change your tuna salad palate forever.

One of my favorite memories of my childhood in Casablanca, is spending the day at Ain Diab Beach, where the coastline is covered with golden sand and turquoise water.

My cousin Alia recently reminisced: “It was such a beautiful, carefree time. Your father would drive all of us to the beach. His car would be stuffed with towels and beach bags, beach balls and floating mattresses for the pool and all of us children, excited for a day at the beach. American songs would be playing on the radio and we all sang along without understanding a word of the lyrics!”

The ocean was a bit breezy, a bit rough and a bit chilly, but I was thrilled by the sound of the waves and the other beachgoers and the warm sun slowly burning my skin. After spending the morning swimming in the pool with my cousins and friends, we would run back to my family’s chairs and umbrellas. 

My mother was always so elegant with her bouffant hair and stylish bathing suit and my father was dashing with his sunglasses and cigarette between his lips. 

My mother would always pack a huge picnic basket and she would always include her delicious Tunisian tuna salad and fresh crusty baguette and we hungrily devoured it. 

The flavors of that mouthwatering salad still take me back to those spectacular days. 

—Rachel

While there is nothing easier than opening a can of tuna, chopping some celery and adding lots and lots of mayo for a satisfying salad or sandwich filling, this recipe for Tunisian tuna salad may just change your tuna salad palate forever. Instead of relying on mayonnaise to do all the heavy lifting, this salad has a whole roster of exotic and exquisite ingredients to make that humble canned tuna truly amazing!

The flavors of this salad keep your taste buds guessing and just wanting more. The baby potatoes add a creaminess. The preserved lemon adds umami. The flaming red chili harissa adds fire. The pickles and cucumbers add crunch. The olives add a satisfying saltiness. The green beans and tomatoes add beautiful color (and added nutrition). 

We love this recipe because a little prep goes a long way. 

Serve it as part of your appetizer course on Shabbat or as the whole meal on a warm summer night. And if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, stuff the salad in a fresh, crispy baguette for the best sandwich you’ve ever had. 

—Rachel and Sharon

Tunisian Tuna Salad Recipe

1 12 ounce can white tuna, drained
10 baby red potatoes, boiled and diced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup preserved lemon, finely chopped
2 tablespoons harissa
1/2 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup cornichons pickles,
finely chopped
2 Persian cucumbers, finely chopped
8 ounces haricots vert, lightly steamed
2 hard boiled eggs, for garnish
1 cup cherry tomatoes, for garnish
1/2 cup green, black and kalamata olives,
for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Place potatoes in a small pot, add cold water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt and bring to a boil over medium.
  • Cover pot, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until fork tender.
  • Drain and let cool.
  • Place tuna in a large bowl and gently flake with a fork.
  • Chop half the potatoes into a small dice and add to tuna.
  • Add olive oil, preserved lemon, harissa, parsley, pickles and cucumbers. Mix well to combine all the ingredients.
  • Slice the rest of the potatoes in thin rounds. Arrange potatoes and steamed green beans on a board.
  • Add tuna and garnish with hard boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes and olives.

Sharon Gomperts and Rachel Emquies Sheff have been friends since high school. The Sephardic Spice Girls project has grown from their collaboration on events for the Sephardic Educational Center in Jerusalem. Follow them on Instagram @sephardicspicegirls and on Facebook at Sephardic Spice SEC Food. 

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