There are days when I didn’t make it to the grocery store and we seem to be out of everything. Maybe there are a few leftovers, but not enough to make a meal. And for all the same reasons that I didn’t get to the store, I don’t have a lot of time to cook. But I’m hungry, and we need to get supper on the table. I have to do something with what we have.

So I check out the fridge and the freezer and the pantry. Sometimes I can’t figure out anything that sounds good. That’s when I use my secret weapon: Google. I list two or three ingredients I have in a search, and see what turns up.

Usually, of course, on desperation dinner days, I don’t have all the ingredients the recipes call for. Or they call for something that someone in the house doesn’t like or can’t have. But that’s okay. The recipes are just a starting point. They give me ideas I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. From there, I just wing it. If it the result is just sort of meh, that’s okay. My husband and I will eat it with grateful hearts, and promise we won’t fix that recipe again.

Of course, sometimes these desperation recipes turn out to be ridiculously good. This is one such recipe.

Tuna sweet potato patties are gluten-free and dairy-free. You can make them egg-free, too, if you need to.

But don’t save this recipe for fish days. Like I said, it’s ridiculously good.

Tuna Sweet Potato Patties


2 – 3 sweet potatoes (about a pound and a half before they’re cooked)
2 cans tuna packed in water
2 whole eggs or ½ cup egg whites (or substitute flax egg substitute)
1 small onion, diced
½ cup leftover rice (I used black rice because that’s what I had)
¼ cup gluten-free oat flour
1 tsp garlic salt (or more to taste)
Black pepper to taste


I had leftover baked sweet potatoes in the fridge. If you’re starting with leftover sweet potatoes, scoop all the flesh out of the skins and put it in a mixing bowl. If you’re starting with raw sweet potatoes, peel them, dice them, and boil them in salted water until they’re tender. Then drain them well and dump them in the bowl.

Add the eggs or egg whites to the bowl. (If you’re using flax egg substitute, add 2 tablespoons ground flax seed and 6 tablespoons warm water to a small bowl. Stir well, then let it sit until it becomes gooey. When it has the consistency of egg whites, add it to the bowl.)

Drain the tuna and add it to the bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients. Mash and stir until everything is well mixed.

Shape into small patties.

If someone in the house is on a super low-fat diet, or if you’re trying to minimize mess in the kitchen, you can bake these. They’ll be soft all the way through. If you want them crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside, fry them.

To bake, put them on parchment lined baking sheets, and bake at 350F for about half an hour, until they’re done.

To fry them, heat about ¼ inch of oil or bacon fat over medium heat in a large cast iron skillet. Fry three or four patties at a time, turning as needed, until they’re crispy on the outside and hot all the way through. Add more oil to the pan between batches. Drain the patties on paper towels to remove excess oil.

The baked tuna sweet potato patties are good. The fried tuna sweet potato patties are amazing. Serve with a salad, if you have salad makings. Or with apple wedges. Or crunchy baby carrots.


Read More

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Charlotte Riggle, author of Catherine's Pascha and The Saint Nicholas Day Snow
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