This is a gorgeous, healthful take on a preparation originally intended for sirloin steak. Fresh or frozen tuna fillets have the density and meaty flavor to make this really outstanding, although flaked salmon could be used in a pinch, with a slightly different, more casual presentation. This is a filling, robust stand-alone meal, and perfect for low-carb diets, although it makes for a substantial starter, as well, before creamier dishes like risotto or gnocchi.
You will need:
- 2 tuna fillets, fresh or thawed
- a head of nice lettuce: either red leaf, romaine, or butter lettuce – this can be jazzed up with the addition of arugula or mache to nice effect
- 3-4 medium beets, peeled, quartered, and sliced
- chili powder
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- olives – kalamata or nicoise
- 1/2 yellow or white sweet onion, cut into 1/2 inch slices
- a large chunk of good quality bleu cheese; roquefort or stilton will work
For the dressing:
- olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon – I prefer the unusual flavor of meyer lemons for this recipe, although any juicy old lemon will do
- balsamic vinegar
- 4-5 cloves fresh garlic, peeled, smashed, and minced
- fresh or dried thyme
- a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 425. Toss the beets with some olive oil, salt, thyme, and chili powder in a cast-iron skillet or roasting pan. Place the pan in the oven and let the beets roast, checking occasionally and turning them to ensure even cooking.
2. Mix up the dressing. Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl and let the flavors meld.
3. Rinse the fish under cold running water, season liberally with salt, and place on a plate. Grind black pepper over the top – enough to cover the entire fillet, then flip it over and do the same for the other side. Press the pepper into the surface of the fillet. Repeat for both pieces of fish.
4. Heat some olive oil in a heavy skillet and sear the tuna. Watch the sides of the fish to see how far the heat has penetrated – you don’t want it to cook all the way through. A few minutes on a side should be plenty. When the fish is cooked, remove it from heat and let it stand a few minutes to cool. Then, carefully slice the fillets into thin pieces, cutting with the grain.
5. Add the slices of fish to the bowl of dressing and toss so that all the pieces are well coated. Let sit to marinate as you prepare the salads.
6. Rinse the lettuce and drain it well, drying it on paper towels or using a salad spinner. Tear or chop into bite-sized pieces and arrange on large salad plates. Place the onions, capers, and olives into the salad, tucking pieces under bits of lettuce and otherwise distributing everything evenly and attractively.
7. Once the beets are roasted, spread them out on a plate and stick it in the freezer or fridge to cool quickly. When the beets are cooled, add them to the salad plates in the same fashion, arranging the ingredients.
8. Finally, add the tuna to the plates. Some people like to curl a few pieces into a rosette for the top, or arrange slices in a circular fan pattern. Others like to loop the tuna in and out of the lettuce as if it were stitching the whole salad together.
9. Crumble the bleu cheese all over the salads, and then finish by drizzling the remaining dressing over the top of everything.
Serve with crusty bread and a bottle of wine, or rice crackers and pomegranate-tonic spritzers with lime.