Grilled Tuna with White Bean and Charred Onion Salad

I promised there would be no more soup for Seafood Week.  This is definitely not soup.  What it is is outstanding.  Out. Standing.  And easy enough for a weeknight dinner even after a pretty tough day at the office.  It didn’t hurt that it’s actually warm enough on this February evening for me to grill outside.  Lovely.  Just lovely.

Let’s start with the tuna.  This is one of those places where you should buy the best you can get.  I chose yellow fin tuna for tonight.  Ahi would be good too.  Whatever you get make sure it’s fresh and good quality.  That means it should be firm and not smell too fishy.  The marinade is very simple and very light.  Just the right mixture of bright and tangy and sharp.  Be sure not to leave it in the marinade longer than the recommended 30 minutes.  Citrus juice ‘cooks’ fish and you don’t want it to be tough when you pull it off the grill.  Make sure the grill is good and hot so it will sear the fish on both sides.  These tuna steaks were about two inches thick and I cooked them 2 minutes on each side.  Perfect.

Now for the bean salad.  This may be the best white bean salad I’ve ever eaten.  Really.  This goes in the list of dishes to take places and share with people.  It’ll be perfect for picnics and cookouts because you serve it at room temperature and it has nothing in it that might spoil from being out.  I did make one substitution, one ommission and one addition.  I didn’t have any capers in the house, but I did have some good quality Spanish olives.  One briny ingredient traded for another.  I chopped the olive in a mini food processor so the pieces would be more the size of capers.  I’ll admit that I used about three times the amount of olives as the recommended amount of capers.  I love olives.  I left out the cucumbers because I prefer not to buy those out of season.  Then, I had some sweet corn left over from when I made the Smoky Seafood Chowder so I charred that in the skillet and tossed that in too.

I gotta say, I can’t quite imagine this without the corn.  It adds the perfect balance of sweetness to the brine and sharpness you get from the olives, raw garlic and dijon mustard.  The onions add a charred and buttery element.  Then there’s the parsley. Do not substitute dried parsley here.  You need the fresh parsley to make the whole dish seem greener and fresher.  This parsley came from the magic parsley plant in my herb garden.  I put this parsley plant in last May.  It has survived the Winter, including 5 inches of snow just 2 days ago, and is still green and leafy.  Amazing.  The cannellini beans add the perfect creaminess to finish the dish.  Yum.

I have only one criticism of this recipe.  There’s just no need for the salad greens.  This dish is light and filling at the same time.  You don’t need the salad greens to help with either of those things.  Mostly I just found that they diluted the flavor of the bean salad and made it more difficult to enjoy.  If you want some leafy greens just serve them separately.

Tonight’s dinner was the best and easiest part of my day.  It’s hard to beat a dinner like that!

Good? So, so good.
Easy? Very.
Good for company? Definitely. This dish might just bring back the mid-week dinner party.
Special shopping? Get the best, freshest fish you can find.

Grilled Tuna with White Bean and Charred Onion Salad


Tuna :
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 (6-ounce) tuna steaks
Cooking spray

1 medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup sweet white corn kernels
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons chopped Spanish olives
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Salad greens


To prepare tuna, combine the first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add tuna to bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes, turning once. Remove tuna from bag; discard marinade. Place tuna on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 2 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

To prepare salad, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a heavy skillet. place onion slices in pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until tender. Cool and chop. Add corn to the hot skillet and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.

Combine vinegar and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until blended. Add onion, corn, parsley, olives, and beans to vinegar mixture; toss to coat. Arrange salad greens on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with about 1/2 cup onion mixture and 1 tuna steak.


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