Back in the day circa 1995, there was a fabulous sandwich shop in downtown Hillsborough (where I grew up) called Lu-E-G’s. They had amazing warm bagels with gooey cream cheese, the best lemon-tahini salad dressing, and great sandwiches. On Friday nights, we would listen to live music by candlelight and hang out in the back parking lot to discuss dELiA’s clothes and Green Day, hoping that one of the cool skateboarder boys would say hi to us.
(Photo from Open Orange)
On Sundays we would walk down from church and get bagels with cream cheese for lunch. Always pumpernickel for me! The bagels were perfectly toasted, and the cream cheese was melted just enough to be super creamy. I think the bagels with cream cheese were $1.50 each, so my parents loved the price of lunch.
During middle school my friend, Kirsten discovered the tuna salad pita pockets. She was always a more adventurous eater than me, and it took me a while to be brave enough to order one myself. The pita came warm, and the chilled tuna salad inside was the best ever.
My mom was not a fan of our new lunch pick because the “tuna pitas” as we called them were $3.50. I remember her urging us to get bagels instead, and I think after a while she would only agree to take us to Lu-E-G’s for lunch if we agreed to get bagels. Lu-E-G’s was sold while I was in college, and while the restaurants that replaced it are good, we Hillsborough natives will never forget all that was Lu-E-G’s (especially the smell!!)
A few years ago I made some pita pockets on KERF, and a reader named Kat commented that she had worked at Lu-E-G’s and knew the basic recipe! Here’s what she wrote:
Recent contacts from old friends led me on a trip down memory lane – which led me to your blog. I worked at Lu-E-G’s from the time I was 15 until 22. The best place there ever was in Hillsborough, NC. I only wish I had the means to recreate it here in Wilmington, NC. If you ever want the true recipe for that tasty Tuna salad….hit me up and I will gladly share it with you. A legacy that should never die, siiiiggggghhhhhhhhhh
OK, so…I eyeball everything now, since we made all of our salads by the truckload and the measurements are useless to me – just experiment a little to your liking I guess.
canned tuna in water (drained)
finely chopped celery
guldens spicy brown mustard
spike (a mrs. dash-esque seasoning that I can only find locally at a few natural food markets, but sooo important)
ground black pepper
serve in a steamed pita with lettuce, tomato & sprouts – or whatever else you like!
Here is my tribute to the tuna pitas we loved so much. (I swapped in canned salmon for tuna because it’s my favorite!) I didn’t have any spike seasoning, but the result I created tasted pretty darn close to my memory of the recipe.
Pimentos are one of the secret ingredients I wouldn’t have guessed!
Sprouts are one of the key flavors!!
So is warming up the pita. To steam it I covered it with a wet paper towel and microwaved for 15 seconds.
Mine was stuffed with sprouts and baby spinach. Add some heirloom tomato if you have!
Eating the warm “lid” first was always the best part : )
Salmon Salad Pita Pockets
- 1 can salmon
- 5 baby carrots grated, about 1/3 cup
- 1/3 cup chopped celery
- 2 tbsp pimentos
- 1.5 tbsp full fat mayonnaise
- 1 heaping tsp spicy brown mustard
- 1/2 tsp dried dill
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- Squeeze of lemon juice about 1/4 a whole lemon
- Generous pinch each of salt and black pepper
- 2 whole wheat pitas steamed
- Lettuce spinach, pickle, tomato, sprouts for garnishing
- Mix salmon through salt and pepper in a bowl until well combined.
- Heat pitas in the microwave under a wet paper towel for 15-20 seconds.
- Fill pitas with salmon salad and add garnishes as desired.