Yesterday morning, I decided that we were definitely having grilled salmon with lemon and dill for dinner (I had some fresh dill that I needed to use up). I also had some sweet potatoes I needed to hurry up and roast before they started sprouting, and some fresh spinach that I bought too much of that I needed to saute (I always get too ambitious at the grocery store when it comes to spinach for some reason).
I was also in the mood to hit up the local farm stand after eating donuts (moderation is key, plus donuts are how I get hubs to leave the house in the mornings) and bought a few beautiful locally grown tomatoes, peaches, and butter beans. This has nothing to do with this story.
Anyway, on our way home from our errands, we stopped in at our local seafood market (Billy's Seafood on Colington Road) to pick up the salmon. We walked in and suddenly remembered that tuna existed. Plans changed.
Normally I like my tuna grilled teriyaki style (a recipe for another day) with fried rice on the side....but I was out of sesame oil and had no rice.
I really didn't think this through.
I started poking around the cupboards and this is what I came up with. In short, it was the best meal I think I've ever made and I ate it very slowly because I knew I'd be sad when it was over (I was right). I didn't even take any professional quality photos of the process (the one I did take of the finished product was after I'd already started eating it and realized how good it was).
Here it is. Note that all of my measurements are approximate, so go with your gut.
Jodi’s Italian Grilled Tuna with Pasta
*approximate total time: 45 minutes
*2 fresh tuna steaks (1 lb. total)
*2-4 cloves of garlic (depending on size)
*1-2 lemons (depending on size)
*1-2 tomatoes (depending on size and what’s in season)
*1 handful fresh baby spinach
*1/3 packet of Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix
*Extra Virgin Olive Oil (use the good stuff if you can)
*Red Pepper Flakes
*Pasta of your choosing (I used Linguine)
*Shredded Parmesan (the bagged kind is fine)
1) Marinate Tuna: In a shallow dish, mix the following:
*Juice of ½ lemon (mine was a large lemon, so use a whole lemon if yours is small)
*~2 T. EVOO
*1/3 packet Italian Dressing Mix
*~1 t. Dried Oregano
*2 cloves minced garlic
*S&P to taste (don’t be afraid to season!!)
Place tuna steaks in marinade and turn several times to coat. Marinate 30-40 minutes at room temp (I don’t recommend going longer than 40 minutes as the lemon juice will start to “cook” the tuna)
Meanwhile, make the pasta:
2) Make Pasta:
Start water to boil pasta per package directions (I used about 1/3 of the box of pasta). In the meantime, mix the following in a large bowl:
*Juice of the other ½ lemon (again, if using small lemons, use a whole lemon)
*~3-4 T. EVOO (you want about twice as much EVOO as lemon juice)
*~1.5 t. Red Pepper Flakes (you can adjust depending on how spicy you’d like it)
*~1/2 t. Dried Oregano
*~1/2 t. Garlic Powder (you can skip this and just use the fresh garlic at the end if you’d like)
*S&P (I’d go a little lighter on the salt here—this dish will have both parm and capers added at the end. I use Kosher Salt, and maybe did 1 tsp.)
While pasta is boiling, prep your veggies (**and have your companion light the grill for the tuna!**):
*1/2 to 1 diced tomato (depending on size and how much you like tomatoes)
*1 handful fresh spinach (I did a rough chiffonade but you can cut however you like)
*1-2 cloves minced garlic (depending on size of clove and again, how much you like garlic. I used 1 large clove)
Once pasta is ready, strain (reserve about 1/4 cup of the pasta water in case you need to add it later) and toss pasta into sauce. Add tomatoes, garlic, spinach, a handful of parmesan, and toss. Plate and top with a little more parmesan, a little more black pepper and a few capers, if desired.
**Because I like to hang out with Chris at the grill/drink wine outside, I made my pasta while the tuna marinated, covered it, and set it aside, then heated it in the microwave about a minute right as I was serving the tuna (mine didn’t dry out, but if it does, that’s what the reserved pasta water is for). I liked that it had a few minutes for the flavors in the sauce and the veggies to come together.**
3) Grill Tuna: Preheat grill on high heat, then cut back to med-high. Add tuna steaks and grill about 5 minutes on first side (you want that crust to form so the tuna doesn’t fall apart when you flip it). Carefully flip tuna and grill 2-3 minutes more (we grill ours to 135 degrees). Remove from grill, plate and top with a few capers, if desired. Serve with pasta.