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June 12, 2013

Food for Thought: Tuna with an Italian twist

This is one of my favorite warm weather dishes.

A recipe from Marcella Hazan, adapted a bit, this Italian preparation of fresh tuna, marinated in olive oil, lemon juice and capers, is probably the origins of the canned stuff in our pantries. It’s at least related to the beautiful jars of tuna slabs packed in olive oil available in fine grocery stores.

While the latter is delicious, this is delicious-er. Marcella poaches her tuna first. Italians favor more cooked than raw in everything from vegetables to veal, but I happen to prefer the more modern preparation of tuna here. I sear the steaks so that they are still blue in the center, slice them on the bias, and then lay in them in the marinade. It makes a wonderful appetizer — if only because it is the ultimate do-ahead-dish.

But, use this as the tuna portion of a Salade Nicoise, with tender haricots verts and gently boiled farm eggs, and this will be your favorite summer menu for company, or just for you.

Marinated Tuna Salad

1 pound fresh yellowfin tuna steak, cut about 1 inch thick

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

3 flat anchovy fillets, finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped capers

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon mustard

Freshly ground pepper


Rub the tuna steaks with a generous 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt and pepper. Heat a grill pan to high, and then let it cool slightly.

Lay the tuna steaks on the pan, and cook for approximately 2 minutes, or until grill marks are well imprinted. Turn steaks, and cook for 2 minutes more. Remove from pan. Steaks will be very pink in the center, but they will continue to “cook” in the marinade.

In a bowl, combine the garlic, anchovies and capers with the lemon juice, olive oil and mustard. Season with salt and pepper and beat with a fork to combine.

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