Nov 10, 2010

Polpettone di tonno - Tuna loaf recipe

Blurry vision and dry mouth.

I'm driving to work in gridlock traffic. At home my son's pale forehead burns, his throat is parched and his tiny stomach, still upset from the previous night's retching, gurgles ominously. 

Soft goodbye at his larger-than-usual chestnut eyes and infinitely long lashes: I whisper a guilty 'mommy has to go to work now,' and I choke back tears, while the unfamiliar babysitter stands in the doorway pretending she's not preoccupied.

This was Friday. A day that seemed neverending.

Fortunately this season's influenza intestinale bug only lasts 24 hours. The temperature is gone, no more projectile vomiting, and several sips of coke later, smiles and pink cheeks are back on Little E's face. I on the other hand have counted numerous new silver streaks in my hair.

It's hard to juggle work and a sick child. It's impossible to stay focused on the job while the person in charge of your sole reason for living can't get a clear reading on the thermometer (I couldn't help chuckling at how the sitter took my son's temperature, more like how you carry a baguette than an armpit lodge).

Tonight I cooked him the first real solid food meal after 3 days of tea and white rice. It felt like a party and the menu had to include a celebratory favorite. So I went with tuna loaf.

On a rainy sick day, nothing restores a smile back on my child's face like a good meatloaf, unrestrained cartoon-watching during dinner, and lots of boiled potatoes. This recipe revisits a family classic, employing tuna instead of leftover roast.

It takes very little effort, and your kids will gratify you with plenty cackle at the table.

600 g (3 cups) oil-canned tuna, well drained
150 g (3/4 cup) coarse homemade breadcrumbs
200 g (2 cups) Parmigiano, grated
9 eggs
1 cup broth concentrate
A dash of ground nutmeg

Put tuna and eggs through the food processor to obtain a supple purée. Remove from blender and knead in the breadcrumbs, cheese and nutmeg; and slowly ladle in some cooled stock, to keep mixture soft. You may not need to use up all the broth, just enough to moisten the loaf. 

Wrap the tuna loaf in a clean kitchen towel and fasten the ends with knots, candy wrapper-style.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. Cook the 'tuna candy' for 20 minutes. Unwrap and let it cool. Serve sliced drizzled with olive oil and lots of steamed potatoes.


  1. i am glad he feels better...ack. yeah not fun to leave a sick kid...

  2. sorry for the slow one who can't cook at the back of the class..... so tuna loaf wraped in kitchen towel is submerged into boiling water. How does that work? I want to give this one a go, a sort of tuna fishcake. love fishcakes... xx

  3. So glad your son is feeling better! He's lucky to have such a fabulous Mama who will cook him such wonderful food. Cheers to his continued recovery - take care:)

  4. Ciao!I love tuna, but never tried a recipe like this, it looks very good. Aww so sorry to hear your son was sick, I hope he feels better.

  5. bless his heart little e, i hope he is feeling better's so hard to see your child sick. i am thinking of him and glad that he has such loving mama to care for him and make him such a wonderful dish to cure his ills.

    sending you hugs and xxx and am off now to drool over the palle de riso from the last post that i missed...

  6. Beautifully written post and a 'svizziosa' recipe!

  7. I must try this! I'm even wondering if thinly sliced, and placed on crostini or cracker and garnished, it would make a great appetizer?

  8. I don't know why, but the tuna loaf never quite cut it for me. I also tried to make a tuna burger on a couple of occasions, and still, it just didn't work in my mouth.

    Who knows why. After all I love tuna.

  9. well i am glad he is feeling better - there is nothing like getting your appetite back after you have been ill. I have just had a bout of flu myself and couldn't bring myself to eat anything, even though my dear husband was trying his best by waving soup under my nose!

  10. Brian~
    Nope, not fun at all...


    Yes! Boil the kitchen towel! Just don't eat it...


    Thank you! He's all better now, jumping on the bed etc.


    You should try it and see, it's very tasty.


    Grazie, how sweet of you to say that. Enjoy the fried fest...


    Thank you! ;)


    Definitely! And with lots of homemade may too!!!


    Tuscan Foodie~
    I'm not a fan of the tuna burger either, but the loaf is indeed versatile. Do you like Vitello Tonnato?


    What a lucky lady to have a wonderful husband like that! Aww, not even chicken soup??

    Ciao and grazie to all

  11. Great post! I’m looking to make some changes in my own eating habits, so I appreciate your insight a lot! Thank you. I recently stumbled upon this blog like I did yours and I thought your readers may appreciate it:

    I’ve started to look for their stuff more regularly and I think I’m going to add your blog to my list as well. Thanks for the post!


  12. Amy~
    Thank *you* for your visit and kind comment. I'll check out the link you provided asap, grazie! In the meantime, great that you're planning a new eating strategy!


  13. My own recipe has milk instead of broth and no cheese. I often use salmon for a change.

  14. Wow, I have never even heard of tuna loaf. I shall have to try it. Thanks, and glad he's feeling better.

  15. Nathalie~
    I'll have to try it with salmon, what a great idea!!


    Let me know how it turns out, OK?


  16. So so tough to leave him when he feels so low, the downside of being a working Mum, but what a tasty dish you prepared when he was feeling better.

  17. Linda~
    I love my job, but how can I really love it when it takes so much precious time away from my little one?
    Hope you had a great weekend.