There is a scene in the movie Julie and Julia where Julie Powell meets some girlfriends for lunch. They all order a cob salad, but each girl orders hers a specific way, making the salad more suited to her individual tastes. There's the "cobb salad, no egg" and the "cobb salad, no bacon." And let's not forget the cobb salad, no blue cheese" or the "cobb salad, no beets". When I first watched the movie all I could think of was that the salad scene was so reminiscent of my, our, family dinners.
I'm a firm believer in making one meal for everyone, but I also think it's okay for each plate to be altered to suit the eater's palate. In our house one likes cheese and one doesn't, and one wants it spicy and the other not so much. Here's a glimpse of how one meal has four different faces at our dinner table.
This is Rob's plate. He likes everything, and I mean everything (the only exception is lima beans) and he likes it spicy. It doesn't matter how well I season something, he douses everything in the hottest chili sauce he can find. He likes stinky, old cheese and lots of it, too. His white bean and tuna bruschetta has a little extra cheddar on top and is extra melty.
Here's my plate. I have a more, ahem, discerning palate I think. I like my bread toasted, but not my tuna, so my toppings are added after the broil. I'm also not a fan of cheese and tuna together, so I just have the tiniest amount on top of the bread for a touch of flavour.
Here's Ben's meal. For those of you with younger, pickier eaters I'm here to tell you that sometime around age ten it seems as though the palate matures and the fussiness gives way to acceptance of almost anything that hits the plate. Except for avocado and cheese, unless it's melted of course. But not on top of tuna. He has some apple in lieu of the avocado and there's no cheese on his bruschetta, although the tuna was toasted along with the bread.
And finally we have Jackson's plate. I don't know what it is about kids and marble cheese, but mine would buy stocks in the stuff if he could. It's his very favourite and of course what was requested for his tuna, which he only likes when served on baguette with melted marble cheddar. He's also not keen on the avocado (unless it's mashed) or the almonds, so he has an extra helping of apples on his plate to bulk up his meal a bit.
I know what you're probably thinking. Is this woman mad? I'm not, but I would be if I had to try to convince Ben to eat cheese on his food and if Jackson had hot sauce and old cheddar on his. So, while I do cook one meal for everyone it doesn't look the same for each of us. And as far as I'm concerned, that's okay.
White Bean and Tuna Bruschetta
- 2 cans good quality tuna, drained
- 1 can navy beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 celery stalks, trimmed and diced
- 1/2 red onion, peeled and grated
- 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
- zest of one lemon
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1 large baguette
- 1/2 cup grated cheese (old cheddar or marble)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Combine all of the ingredients, except for the bread and cheese, in a medium mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Top the bread with the tuna mixture and spread the cheese evenly over the top. Bake until the bread is golden brown and the cheese has melted.