Friday, March 16, 2012

Tuscan Tuna and Cannellini Beans

I had the leftovers from yesterday's Snapping Turtle Salad for lunch today and I have to say that I think it was better the second day. This would be a really great recipe to make the day before a picnic or backyard party and then stick in the fridge. I would just take it out about 30 minutes before you served it to get the vinagrette warmed to room temperature.

I also wanted to share a variation on the theme that one reader posted about (thank you Anonymous!). It is from "The Mayo Clinic William-Sonoma Cookbook" and is called Tuscan Tuna and Cannellini Beans. The Other Half was kind enough to have tuna two days in a row, for the sake of experimentation (he is a trooper isn't he) and said he liked this version as well, maybe more so when it is cool outside. So for those readers of mine who haven't quite thawed out yet, but would like a little taste of warmer times to come, here is a recipe for you.

Couple of notes:

If you don't want to use white wine you can substitute chicken stock and a little lemon juice in it's place.

One small yellow onion works well in this recipe. If you have a larger white onion I would only use half.

I de-seeded the tomatoes for this recipe. Because you are going to cook them anyway the fastest way to do this is to cut them in half and squeeze them gently like a lemon, rubbing the sides gently together, over the sink. This should get most of the seeds out and leave you the flesh.

Tuscan Tuna and Cannelini Beans

1/3 cup orange juice
1 yellow onion, chopped
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 lb sushi-grade tuna steaks, cut into 1-inch cubes
15 oz cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 small tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp grated orange zest
1 tbsp chopped chives
salt to taste

In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat the orange juice. Add the onion and sauté about 5 minutes, until t just starting to wilt and become translucent. Add the wine and vinegar and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium and stir in tuna, beans, tomatoes, basil pepper and half the orange zest. Cover and cook until fish is opaque through out - about 7-10 minutes.

Plate and sprinkle with chives, remaining orange zest and salt to taste.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Snapping Turtle Salad

I have been away from the blog for a whole month without even realizing it. The truth of the matter is I have kind of been away from cooking. In the rarest of circumstances I found myself in a situation that was so overwhelming that cooking didn’t even chill me out. Without getting into lots of gory details, the simple answer is that our military family will be once again relocating this summer, and though this has been a given for a while, we were caught in that dead space in the process where you know (or think, or hope) you will move but do not know when. In that space I lost interest in experimenting with new recipes, so we have been eating a lot of roast chicken and pasta and tried and true standbys. And then we got orders. Simply put we know where we are moving next and I could not be more thrilled. And back to the kitchen I go!

It has been unseasonably warm here this week – mid to high-80s warm – so I have been craving something light. And since it has been so nice and daylight savings time is upon us once again I needed something fast so that we can spend as much time outside playing as possible. Hands on time for this recipe was about 15-20 minutes. I served the salad with some homemade potato bread and on a bed of washed baby romaine.

The real name of this dish is Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad but my oldest pod took one look at it in the bowl tonight and said, “Mom, dinner is as ugly as a snapping turtle. I hope it tastes better than it looks, because it looks gross.” After patiently explaining to him that I didn’t really appreciate that kind of comment, I kind of had to agree. Don’t let appearances fool you though. It will be worth it, I promise.

Couple of notes:

I used sushi grade tuna steaks for this recipe. Since I was going to cut it up into chunks anyway, I asked the fish counter person if they had any left over pieces of tuna that weren’t as pretty, that they might be able to sell me at a better price. In a rush or don’t want to spend the money on tuna steak? You can easily substitute canned tuna, but if you do, I would recommend the Italian tuna packed in olive oil. I can find it in the specialty section at our grocery store but in some of the nicer stores it is in with the regular tuna selection. It comes in nice big chunks, filled with flavor and is very moist.

Don’t like fish? This is one of those dishes that you could throw pretty much anything into. Grill some chicken and throw it in.  Substitute olives for the capers, chickpeas for the cannelloni beans, roasted red peppers for the sun-dried tomatoes – you get the idea.

I grilled my steak indoors on an All-Clad, stove-top grilling pan. The secret to getting a good sear indoors is that same as on an outdoor grill – make sure your pan is good and hot.

I would love to hear what you think and if any of you get a pretty shot of it, send it my way and I will be happy to post it on the blog with full credits to you.

Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad

1 lb sushi-grade tuna steak
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter or olive oil
15 oz can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
3 tbsp oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
2 tbsp capers, drained
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 lemon
1 tomato, roughly chopped
pinch red pepper flake
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Romaine lettuce

Preheat grill or grill pan. Melt butter then add minced garlic. Let butter mixture sit while prepping remaining ingredients. Once the pan is hot, brush both side of steaks with butter mixture and place on the grill. Sear for 3-4 minutes per side, reapplying butter mixture as needed to keep the meat moist. I like to cook the tuna  until the outside is starting to brown but center is still pink, but if you are like The Other Half you will need to add a little time to get to medium. (Watch it carefully though — tuna cooks fairly quickly if your pan is hot enough.)  

In a large bowl combine beans, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, parsley, tomato and the zest of the lemon. Roughly cut the tuna in to chunks and layer on top of the vegetables.

In a separate bowl whisk together the juice of the zested lemon (about 2-3 tbsp), olive oil, salt and pepper, to make a vinaigrette. Pour vinaigrette over the tuna mixture and toss. Serve on a bed of lettuce with fresh bread.