Many moons ago, Joey and I went on our honeymoon to a wonderful resort in St. Lucia. There was a library there, and I borrowed the book Julie and Julia to read while we relaxed on the beach every day. Never having heard of food blogs before, I thought they were a pretty revolutionary idea, and the wheels started turning in my head. Having received The Barefoot Contessa at Home as a wedding gift, I thought it would be a fun idea to cook my way through it a la Julie Powell. However, as soon as we got home and I looked into it, I saw that I was about two years too late. There were already tons of food blogs out there. I pushed starting a blog to the back burner, but I started cooking my way through The Barefoot Contessa at Home at a voracious pace anyway. That summer I probably made half the recipes in her cookbook, and we loved them all.
This grilled tuna salad was first up, and I made it one Saturday night when we had some friends over for dinner. It was the beginning of summer, and this grilled salad was a really nice light dinner - paired with a green salad, some good bread, and crisp white wine, it was perfect for entertaining friends on the deck. I've made it a few times since then, and I'm so happy to share it with you now.
This salad is the reason I fell in love with Ina Garten's recipes. Seemingly simple ingredients combined in a way to create a truly special meal. Avocado, onion, and scallions don't seem like anything special, but mixed with seared tuna and a wasabi-lime vinaigrette, this salad is elevated to a meal worthy of a special occasion. It's also very quick and easy - as the grill is preheating, mix up the vinaigrette, chop the veggies, and toast the sesame seeds. Quickly grill the tuna (with a glass of wine in hand, of course), then chop the avocado and fish, toss it all together, and serve. As Ina would say, "How easy is that?"
Grille Tuna and Avocado Salad
barely adapted from The Barefoot Contessa at Home
serves 4 to 6
I only grilled enough tuna for Joey and myself, but for the kids, I used grilled shrimp and chopped mango. It was a great alternative for the grilled tuna, and a combination I'll definitely be using in the future.
If you don't have a grill, the tuna can also be seared on the stovetop. In a dry sauté pan over high heat, cook the tuna 2-3 minutes per side, turning once.
- 2 lbs very fresh tuna steaks, about 1-inch thick
- olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1-2 Tbs sesame seeds
- grated zest of 2 limes
- juice of 3 limes
- 1 tsp wasabi powder
- 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp honey
- 10-15 dashes of hot sauce (adjust to your spice preference)
- 2 firm, ripe avocados
- 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 scallions, minced (white and light green parts only)
Meanwhile, brush both sides of the tuna steaks with olive oil, and season liberally with salt and pepper.
To toast the sesame seeds, place them in a dry sauté pan, and cook over medium-low heat, tossing often, until they are golden-brown, 5-10 minutes. Remove them from the pan as soon as they are done, or they will burn.
Mix the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, wasabi powder, soy sauce, honey, hot sauce, 1 tsp kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
For the tuna, brush the grates of the grill with oil. Place the tuna on the grill and cook 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate. The tuna should be seared on the outside and raw in the center. Allow to cool slightly, and chop into 1-inch cubes.
Meanwhile, chop the avocado into large bite-sized pieces and toss with the tuna, onion, scallions, and most of the wasabi-lime dressing. Divide among individual serving plates and drizzle with additional dressing and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve at room temperature.