Curried Tropical Tuna Spears

by Dorothy Reinhold on November 18, 2014

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When I make appetizers for a party, I’m thinking of several things.

  1. They should be substantial enough so that those imbibing won’t get tipsy before dinner. They need to have some heft to them.
  2. They should be easy to pick up and eat, without fussing with forks.
  3. These days, they might need to be allergy-friendly, such as lactose-free. For example, it’s easy enough to make anything more delicious by throwing, say, cheese on it, but if everything has cheese on it, some people are left out of the fun.
  4. They should be pretty. Always. Pretty food is fun to eat.

So when Green Valley Organics announced they had come out with a new product – real dairy lactose-free cream cheese – and asked me to create a recipe that showed it off — I immediately thought of an appetizer. That’s what we all need a lot of in November/December, eh? I’ve used endive spears lately for a couple of different appetizers…

…and I wanted to use endive again. It follows my appetizer rules 2 and 4.  😛

Even though I am not lactose-intolerant, I really like the Green Valley Organics Lactose-Free Cream Cheese (available at Whole Foods). It has a clean, slightly tart dairy flavor, and lacks nothing in the taste department, so it’s a win-win. It’s also a bit softer than regular brick cream cheese, so suits those recipes where you are asked to soften the cream cheese before using; you won’t have to soften this cream cheese. I also like the packaging, since if you don’t use it all, you can easily snap the lid back on, which is problematic with brick cream cheese wrapped in foil. A couple of other key reasons I think it tastes good: It contains no additives, fillers, gums or added sugar, and has live and active cultures; it’s also kosher and gluten-free.

My inspiration for this appetizer was sunflowers.

Sunflower Collage on

How do you think I did?

Ingredients for Curried Tropical Tuna Spears on

Assembling Curried Tropical Tuna Spears on

Curried Tropical Tuna Spears first step on

Curried Tropical Tuna Spears as a sunflower on

Curried Tropical Tuna Spears appetizer on

Curried Tropical Tuna Spears

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 3-0-40 spears. Serves 16-20.

Lively additions of candied ginger, curry, onion, currants and walnuts make this tuna endive appetizer one to remember!


  • 1 (8-ounce) container Green Valley Organics Lactose Free Cream Cheese
  • 2 (5-ounce) cans tuna in water, well drained (I used low-sodium tuna; suit yourself)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced crystallized ginger
  • 3-4 drops Tabasco Habanero or other hot sauce
  • 4 heads endive
  • Garnishes
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 1/4 cup chopped Red Walnuts (or nut of your choice), plus extra walnut halves for the center of the “flower”


  1. Make the tuna mixture: In a bowl, add ½ cup cream cheese (save rest for another use), tuna, curry powder, rice vinegar, Dijon, ginger and hot sauce. Mix well to combine. (I used a KitchenAid mixer to mix it all well on low speed, but you can certainly do it by hand if you like. Just get it well mixed.)
  2. Spoon some of the tuna mixture into a small zipper-top plastic bag, zip it shut and snip off a bit of one corner. This is now your piping bag.
  3. Cut ¼ inch off the end of the endive heads, and peel endive leaves off. Arrange endive leaves on a big plate, in a flower petal pattern. Get garnishes (red onion, currants, chopped walnuts) ready.
  4. Make the spears: Squeeze out a line of tuna mixture along the center of each endive leaf. Sprinkle currants at the end near the center of the flower, followed by walnuts, followed by red onion (or whatever order you prefer).
  5. You can certainly plate these on a horizontal platter, but you won’t get the same sunflower effect. The taste, however, will be just as wonderful!
  6. Make as many as you like. If you have leftover tuna mixture and you’re done making spears, mix in some chopped onion and currants and store the leftover tuna in the refrigerator. Make a sandwich out of it the next day, or serve a scoop of it atop some greens for a nice salad. Sprinkle with walnuts.
  7. Makes 30-40. Serves 16-20, depending on appetites.


Recipe source: Dorothy Reinhold | Shockingly Delicious

Curried Tropical Tuna Spears on

Other recipes that use this cheese:

Disclosure: Green Valley Organics / Redwood Hill Farm sent cream cheese for recipe development and compensated me for this post. Readers, thank you for supporting the brands that I truly love and work with! Connect with Green Valley Organics on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Smith Bites November 20, 2014 at 10:59 am

these are absolutely perfect Dorothy!! a little bitter w/the counter-sweetness added to the mix and then it’s finger food!


Dorothy Reinhold November 21, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Deb/Smith Bites,
This is my favorite kind of finger food!


Cookin Canuck November 20, 2014 at 7:07 am

What a beautiful appetizers! That Green Valley Organics cream cheese is really good and this is such an original way to use it.


Dorothy Reinhold November 20, 2014 at 7:47 am

Cookin’ Canuck/Dara,
Thank you! I really think I might like this cream cheese BETTER than regular cream cheese! The flavor is outstanding.


Kelly @ TastingPage November 19, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I too love a recipe that is not only pretty, but tastes good and has some great flavor. You have achieved the perfect trifecta!


Dorothy Reinhold November 20, 2014 at 5:44 am

Thank you! What a nice compliment!


Anita November 18, 2014 at 10:54 pm

So creative and pretty! You’re right, we eat with our eyes as much as our stomach. Great presentation!


Dorothy Reinhold November 19, 2014 at 4:38 am

Thanks Anita!


fabiola@notjustbaked November 18, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Dorothy, these are so lovely and look incredibly delicious!


Dorothy Reinhold November 18, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Thank you, Fabiola! They turned out so tasty!


Cathy | She Paused 4 Thought November 18, 2014 at 6:24 pm

What a beautiful and fun appetizer. How creative to make it look like a sunflower. I am so excited to see Lactose Free Cream Cheese and I can’t wait to try it.


Dorothy Reinhold November 18, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Of all people, Cathy, YOU would appreciate the effort at art! Do try this cream cheese. I am currently in love with it.


Kim - Liv Life November 18, 2014 at 6:21 pm

Oh what a fabulous find!! Neither of my kids can have with lactose and we’ve simply foregone the things that they used to love. Like cream cheese. So this is a MUST try for us… and I’m thrilled it’s organic!! Your tuna spears are fabulous too!!


Dorothy Reinhold November 18, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Then you should get this right away! I thought it was maybe even BETTER than regular cream cheese.


Sippitysup November 18, 2014 at 4:06 pm

“5. They should be Shockingly Delicious!”


Dorothy Reinhold November 18, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Thank you, Greg. Goes without saying! Or maybe it SHOULD be said.


Marnely Murray November 18, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Love this recipe – and your rules for apps. Seriously, who doesn’t hate when they need to balance a fork for a small bite!? These look packed with flavor and crunch – adding this to my holiday must make this! And I need to try that cream cheese!


Dorothy Reinhold November 18, 2014 at 7:22 pm

This cream cheese will change your life!


Michelle @ The Complete Savorist November 18, 2014 at 2:33 pm

What an elegant and tasty appetizer. This would be a hit at my next book club.


Dorothy Reinhold November 18, 2014 at 7:22 pm

It’s PERFECT for book club meeting! No muss, no fuss. Nothing to smear.


cristina November 18, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Your curried tropical tuna spears turned out beautiful and nice to know about the lactose free cream cheese…just in time for the holidays and delicious appetizers!


Dorothy Reinhold November 18, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Thank you!


Lizthechef November 18, 2014 at 11:03 am

I would not have thought to put these flavors together but they work! Pretty indeed – but where on earth do you find low sodium tuna??


Dorothy Reinhold November 18, 2014 at 7:24 pm

I picked it up at Vons! They had both Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee brands of low-sodium tuna in water.


Linda | Brunch with Joy November 18, 2014 at 10:29 am

Awwww look at those flowery endives. They totally look lovely and perfect for appetizer.


Dorothy Reinhold November 18, 2014 at 7:24 pm

I was workin’ it on the flowery aspect. I guess I did OK!


Dorothy Reinhold November 21, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Redwood Hill,
You are very welcome! I am officially in love with your new cream cheese.


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