Lemon Tuna Balls

December 6, 2011 § 2 Comments

E: These are one of my favorite recipes from my mother. When posting them to the blog I decided we should do a twist on them, so we used them as a sort of meatball with pasta. I’ll include the recipe for the sauce (which, if you’ve read our coq au vin post, should seem eerily familiar—we made some slight cooking-order changes here, largely because we didn’t want to be bothered with removing things from the pan to cook other things separately) but the main star here really is these tuna balls. At home I don’t think we ever had them with pasta. They are definitely delicious on their own as the main part of a meal, but I figured they look like meatballs so why not try it.

with a little dusting of cheese

I encourage you to use them alone or in pasta. They would be a great appetizer or side dish, too—I can just see bite-sized tuna balls on a tray at a party, with little toothpicks in them! You may have to change the amounts of things to your tastes, but the combination of lemon, tuna, and mustard seeds is really a winning one. Try them both with chives (subtler and prettier) and with onions (more flavorful, but also more boring looking), or be really daring and use both at the same time. Whatever you do, enjoy another recipe coming straight from my past to (hopefully) your future!


Approx 1 can (7 oz.) of tuna (I really want to try these with fresh chopped tuna at some point, sort of tartare-style, but I take no responsibility as to how that might turn out)
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1/4 C.)
1 cup breadcrumbs, cracker crumbs, or steelcut oats (do the oats, guys! just pulse some normal oats in a blender)
1/4 to 1/2 C. finely chopped onion or chives (if you do onion, make sure they are cut very small or they will ruin the structural integrity)
2 slightly beaten eggs
1 tsp dried parsley (or some finely chopped fresh parsley)
1/4 tsp dried mustard powder or 1 tsp mustard seed cooked in 1/2 Tbsp olive oil (or both!)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp fresh cracked white or black pepper
Salt, to taste

For the pasta sauce:
1/2 lg. onion or 1 small onion, chopped
6 to 9 sliced crimini mushrooms
2 to 4 scallions, sliced thinly
2 to 3 cloves garlic
1 C. wine (or less if you are using vermouth)
1 C. chicken broth or seafood broth
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp Herbes de Provence or rosemary
1 Tbsp corn starch or flour
Salt and pepper to taste
A pasta of your choice

Either way you’ll also need some oil or butter for frying.

Start by chopping/mincing/slicing things up.

onion, garlic, chives

And then do some more chopping/slicing.

mushrooms and scallions

Yes there’s some bell pepper there. We added it because we had some lying around we needed to use. I didn’t think it really improved the dish, so I ignore it from this point on.

If you are doing a pasta sauce, now is the time to start it. I’ll include the pictures down below after the tuna ball recipe, but basically start frying stuff here. When you finish adding the wine and chicken stock, and begin letting the sauce simmer, move on to the tuna balls:

Mix up all the ingredients for the lemon tuna balls in a bowl, beating the eggs a bit first and blending the oats if necessary. If you are using mustard seeds, you want to cook them a few minutes in some really hot oil until they start popping, then just dump that oil into the mix.

looks tasty, right?

Then, form these into small balls, and start frying them.

these smell great while frying too

You want them a nice golden brown on each side. Remove them to a plate (covered in a paper towel to soak up the excess oil) and then they are basically ready.

Keep them warm in the oven, and finish up your pasta sauce if you are using it. If you’ve been cooking some pasta too, then presto, you are done!

If you want to do the sauce, start by sautéeing the onions, add the mushrooms and cook them to be soft and browning, and then add the scallions. Cook for another two minutes or so.

onions, mushrooms, scallions cooking

Then add the garlic, cook 1 minute, then add the wine and stock. Set to a simmer, and cook down while you work on other things. When the tuna balls are nearly done, cook up some pasta, and toss it in the sauce.

tossing the pasta in sauce

Now that everything is finished, put it all together. Add the pasta and sauce to a bowl, place the tuna balls on top and sprinkle with grated cheese (we used a Parmesan). Enjoy!

those aren't bell peppers you see there, no, you must be imagining things


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§ 2 Responses to Lemon Tuna Balls

  • Norm says:

    just finished making this recipe and it turned out great! i had to adjust a few ingredients,i used whole grain Dijon mustard(had no mustard seeds) and whole wheat saltine crackers instead of bread crumbs and used onions and chives . made these as an appetizer did not make the pasta this time, but all in all very good and easy to make (shallow fried in canola)

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