Crispy Tuna and Potato Patties

polpette di tonno

Tuna patties are one of my favorite emergency dinner staples. The kids love them, they are super easy to make and endlessly versatile. Serve them alone as an appetizer, on a salad as a light lunch, or in a bun as a fun hamburger alternative. It took me a while to get this recipe just right, tuna patties can often be too crumbly, too dry, or too flavorless. I’ve tried many different versions, but the addition of potato in this recipe is what makes the consistency and flavor really perfect here. I always keep a couple cans of tuna in the house, and have found them helpful for inventing quick, last minute dishes when I seemingly have nothing else in the house. Check out some more life-saving tuna recipes here.

As the summer comes to a close, I’m trying to brush up on my quick weeknight recipes. I’ve been spoiled over the last month, by the nonnas in my husband’s family home on the Ligurian coast. I have scarcely even had to think about feeding myself or my family, since the matriarchs of the family rise at dawn to begin planning the day’s menus, peeling potatoes, picking basil, gently washing zucchini blossoms. Of course I hover around the kitchen, taking notes and giving a hand when permitted, but I mostly haven’t had to think about “what’s for dinner?” once in the past month. And it has been lovely.

I (obviously) love to cook, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t feel like a chore sometimes. When I come home late from a long day of work, to an empty refrigerator and a hungry family, whipping up a meal is the last thing on my mind. I have to admit, however, that some of my favorite recipes have been born out of these seemingly frantic moments of limited ingredients and even less time at my disposal… And I often have fun despite my initial exasperation, as if I’m living my own personal episode of Masterchef, with my bleak refrigerator as my Mystery Box, my little family as my panel of judges.

I’m pleased to report that this recipe passed the test and left happy judges and a very satisfied contestant.

Crispy Tuna and Potato Patties

  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 5-oz (140 g) cans of tuna packed in olive oil, drained
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon diced parsley
  • 1 tablespoon diced dill
  • 1/2 clove of garlic, diced
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) Panko bread crumbs
  • extra virgin olive oil, for frying
  • lemon wedges, for serving
  • tartare sauce, fer serving (optional)
for 8-10 patties

Place potato slices in a large saucepan. Cover with water. Bring to the boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain. Transfer to mixing bowl and roughly mash with a fork. Let cool completely.

Combine tuna, egg, parsley, dill, garlic, lemon rind, mustard and mashed potato in a large bowl. Season well with salt and pepper. Mix well to combine. Shape mixture into patties. Toss lightly in breadcrumbs and place on a tray. Repeat with remaining potato mixture and breadcrumbs. Refrigerate patties for 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook patties, in several batches, for 3-4 minutes each side or until golden and heated through. Serve warm, sprinkled with extra parsley and dill, with tartare sauce and lemon wedges.

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