A Salad Story: From Rags to Riches (Tuna, Radicchio and Egg)

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You’re at home and want a delicious lunch but your pantry and refrigerator are nearly bare. What do you do?


You have three options. 1. Go out for lunch (or, order in). Although, you’d probably have to drive, it can be expensive, and if you’re like me, you might become paralyzed by the myriad of choices. Plus, you never know what restaurants put in their food. 2. Pretend you’re on the TV cooking show “Chopped!“ and make lunch from mystery basket of ingredients. 3. Act like Caesar Cardini, the creator of the Caesar Salad, and do the best with what you have. With only scraps left in his kitchen he made a world-renowned salad.


I found myself in this situation and chose option three. Like Caesar’s restaurant, my pantry was bare, and I had to come up with something tasty with very few ingredients. To be clear, I did not make a Caesar salad…  However, I always have high-quality olive oil-packed jars of tuna fillets in my pantry. I recommend you do the same. They can be a game changer for quick, healthy, high-protein meals. As an example, see Synergy Pasta (Penne with Lemon, Olives and Tuna). There is a night and day difference between these tuna fillets and regular canned tuna. Skip the canned tuna.

The tuna fillets were my anchor in which to build my lunch upon. I also (almost) always have eggs. I also had a leftover small head of radicchio tucked away in the vegetable crisper.


From these few, basic ingredients, I created an amazing quick lunch salad that I’ve been eating ever since. From my taste bud’s perspective, it’s got it all. It’s creamy from the eggs, crunchy from the radicchio, and there’s plenty umami from the tuna. Better yet, this salad dresses itself with the soft-boiled egg’s egg yolks and drizzle of olive oil.


Rags to Riches Salad (Tuna, Radicchio and Egg)


  • 1 small head of radicchio, any type
  • 2 soft boiled eggs (see directions, below)
  • 1 jar of tuna fillets in olive oil (see head note)
  • A couple of drizzles of olive oil
  • Salt (kosher or sea salt, not iodized table salt) and pepper to taste



  1. Prepare the soft-boiled eggs with any method that works best for you. Peel and roughly chop the eggs and place them in a mixing bowl.  There are dozens of methods of preparing soft- and hard-boiled eggs found on the Internet. However, here’s what I do that’s fool-proof:
    • Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil
    • Using a large spoon, gently place the eggs into the boiling water
    • Boil for exactly 1 minute
    • Reduce the heat to the lowest possible and cover. Simmering for seven minutes on low heat gives you a very soft-boiled egg with the yolk a little runny. Eight minutes gives you a soft-boiled egg with the yolk barely set. This is my preferred way.
    • After seven or eight minutes remove the eggs from the simmering water and place them in a bowl with ice water until fully cooled
  2. Drain the oil from the jar of tuna and place the tuna fillets in the mixing bowl with the chopped eggs. Gently break apart the pieces of tuna into bite-size pieces
  3. Slice the radicchio head in half and cut out the core from each half. Gently pry open the leaves and drizzle a little bit of olive oil in between the leaves. Bring a small sauté pan to medium heat and placed the radicchio halves face side down. Leave in place until the cut side of the radicchio is nicely browned. You do not want to cook it all the way through. Starting with the top of each radicchio half, cut into half-inch (1 cm) ribbons. As you reach the base of each radicchio half your knife will face resistance. When it is difficult to cut, feel free to discard the base
  4. Place the radicchio ribbons in the mixing bowl with the eggs and tuna and mix well with a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide and serve.

Author: gregnelsoncooks

Visit weekly for original and adapted recipes as well as cooking tips to make your kitchen life easier — and more delicious! I’ll include simple, straight forward instructions along with recipes that are truly worth your time making. And, recipes that elevate the familiar and introduce you to the new and unexpected.

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