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It’s Spring—Time for Tea Parties

Yield: 32 oz

Author: Carol Ann Kates

Spring is my favorite time of year for tea parties. If you are involved in an organization, it’s the perfect way to say thank you to volunteers. Inviting your child’s teacher to tea at year’s end can be a warm and very personal way of expressing appreciation. Tea parties can also be the ideal setting for entertaining close friends and savoring meaningful relationships.

Traditionally, tea party menus include a selection of finger sandwiches and savories, followed by scones or cookies served with preserves, delicious pastries, cake, and quick breads. And what is a tea party without something chocolate. Menus, of course, vary depending upon the occasion, the time of year, and our own personal inclinations. A good pot of tea is always on the menu, but making a proper cup is another story.

In 2001, several ladies from National Chairty League attended at a gathering in my home to plan activities for our daughters. I decided to serve tuna salad tea sandwiches because it was late in the afternoon, and I thought people might be feeling peckish. Years later I ran into Kathy Kitchell, one of the moms at that meeting, and she still remembered the sandwiches I served. I was invited to tea party just this week hosted by one of my PEO sisters, Alyce Kaehler. I remembered how taken Kathy was with my tuna salad sandwiches so I made them again for my PEO sisters.

Time moves too quickly since 2001 and so much has changed. We don’t often pause these days to enjoy afternoon tea. Life has just become too hectic. If you’re planning to entertain special people this spring, consider a tea party. Your guests will feel like royalty; and if you serve my tuna sandwiches, they’ll remember your party for decades. If you don’t have the inclination for such an affair, savor those you cherish over a simple pot of tea and sandwiches. It’s sure to cure whatever is pecking at you midafternoon.

Following is the recipe for that memorable tuna served in 2001. My recipe is unique because I slowly poach yellowfin tuna fillets in olive oil. This recipe is a bit pricey to prepare, but absolutely delicious. It can be difficult to find fresh yellowfin tuna, but Kings does have frozen fillets.


Slow Poached Tuna:

  • 2 pounds fresh albacore or yellowfin tuna fillets

  • Sea salt

  • 3 teaspoons garlic, minced

  • 3 to 4 sprigs fresh thyme

  • Extra virgin olive oil to cover

Carol Ann’s Tuna Salad Tea Sandwiches:

  • 24 ounces slow poached tuna or 4 (6-ounce) cans albacore tuna, drained

  • 1 cup red onion, finely chopped

  • ¾ cup Kalamata olives, thinly sliced

  • ½ cup red bell pepper, finely chopped

  • 1 can (14-ounces) quartered artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

  • 1 cup mayonnaise

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • Sea salt to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


Slow Poached Tuna:

  • Preserving tuna is an ancient art, perfected thousands of years ago by the Italians. Even today, some of the tastiest canned tuna comes from Italy. While commercial canners most often steam their tuna, you get a more delicious end product when you slowly poach tuna in olive oil, a process the French call confit.

  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. In a baking dish just large enough to hold tuna in 1 layer, place tuna and sprinkle generously with salt on both sides. Spread garlic evenly over fillets. Place 1 sprig of thyme on each fillet, then add enough olive oil to completely cover tuna. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Cook until the tuna is thoroughly cooked and flakes easily when pierced with a fork, about 3 to 4 hours.

  • Remove the baking dish from the oven and set on a rack to cool completely. Transfer tuna into jars with enough oil to cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Tuna will keep up to 2 months. Cooking tip: Cooking time will depend on the thickness of fillets. You will know tuna is done when it flakes easily and the fillets feel firm from the edges all the way to the center. Storing tip: Tuna can be transferred to sterile mason jars and filled with olive oil within ½-inch of the top and processed in a hot water bath for 10 minutes, cooled, and stored at room temperature for up to 6 months. Jars may also be refrigerated for up to 6 months.

My sandwiches at Alyce's tea party

Carol Ann’s Tuna Salad Tea Sandwiches:

In a large bowl, combine tuna, onion, olives, bell pepper, artichoke hearts, and mayonnaise. Sprinkle with lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste and mix until all ingredients are well combined.

To assemble sandwiches:

  • 6 slices sourdough bread

  • Sliced cherry tomatoes

  • Fresh parsley, snipped

  • Spread tuna salad on 3 slices sourdough bread. Cover with remaining 3 slices of bread and gently press together. Using a bread knife, slice crusts off bread. Cut each sandwich into triangles. Arrange on a plate and garnish with sliced cherry tomatoes and fresh parsley. Place unused tuna salad in airtight containers and refrigerate. Eat leftover tuna salad within 3 days if you can hold onto it that long.

Carol Ann

Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at and explore her website,

Copyright 2024 All Rights Reserved Carol Ann Kates

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