Hubby’s Grilled Tuna Salad


When you cook a lot, you learn to work around the ever-present possibility of some sort of fiasco – or at least, I have.  Cuts, burns, ruined rice or a repeat of the Great Pesto-Tastrophe of 2005 (we had pesto on the ceiling – I kid you not) are always a specter looming over my kitchen.  I’m never entirely surprised by misfortune in the kitchen and I’m not really fazed by it at this point.  My husband, however, still comes running whenever I say “ouch” and worries over the possibility of injuries that really just make me feel like a true chef.  Last week I got bitten by my bread knife (again – can’t stand that thing) and the one good thing that came of it is that hubby wouldn’t let me do anything except for sit on the couch and drink the tea that he would make for me.  All in all, it was a pretty relaxing injury!  But that evening I had planned a grilled tuna salad and we had already bought fresh tuna for it; obviously, we had to eat the tuna and we had to eat it right away.  So we did what any seafood-loving couple would do when the cooking half is grievously injured – the hubs cooked dinner while I drank wine and shouted instructions from the living room.  It turned out delicious – rich tuna, creamy avocado and a tart dressing.  What more can you ask for?  Except, of course, for the ability to do the cooking yourself.


Grilled Tuna Salad

2 fresh tuna steaks
extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and fresh black pepper
grated zest of 2 lemons
6 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce
10 dashes hot sauce
2 firm but ripe avocados, cubed
1/4 cup minced scallions
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

  • Grill the tuna steaks briefly, until just seared on the outside but still raw inside.  Remove from grill and allow to cool slightly before cutting tuna into large bite-sized cubes.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, soy sauce, hot sauce, kosher salt and pepper to taste.  Toss the avocados in the dressing, then arrange on individual plates.  Top with tuna cubes and sprinkle with scallions and black sesame seeds.

Source: Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home, by Ina Garten

Wine Pairing: This is a very summery dish to me, with a lovely richness that is counterbalanced by the tart dressing – so you could choose a wine to complement either characteristic.  A nice Viognier from Virginia would stand up well.  Or you might choose to echo the tart notes from the dressing with a Vinho Verde – that would be my choice.  And, of course, you could always go with a Spanish rose – just be sure to be eating this dinner outside with candles and flowers if you go that route!

Carrot Salad Three Ways


Salad: love it or hate it?  Well, it depends.  Limp lettuce + one cherry tomato + one cucumber slice + Italian dressing?  Blech.  But a really fresh salad, using seasonal ingredients and just enough of a creative, healthy dressing to make the whole dish sing?  Yes, please!  Prepared the right way, salads can be a perfect way to showcase seasonal produce and a palate for some truly imaginative “cooking.”  Every year as the weather gets warmer, I get the itch to try new and different salads.  Last year, I went crazy for carrots.  Like Rabbit in Winnie-the-Pooh (oh, how I identify with poor, put-upon, veggie-loving Rabbit), I was hoarding carrots and carrot recipes as if, at any given moment, Tigger could come along and bounce it all away.  In particular, I became enamored with the idea of an incredibly simple but beautiful salad of just carrot ribbons and dressing, and I started thinking of ways that I could vary the ingredients to make completely different styles of salad.  Following are my favorite variations on a very basic carrot ribbon salad that is delicious all on its own.


Basic Carrot Ribbon Salad

1 bunch carrots, peeled and with stalks trimmed off
extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
coarse salt and pepper

Using a vegetable peeler, shave ribbons off of the carrots until they are too flexible to work with any longer.  Toss with just enough extra-virgin olive oil to coat, squeeze over lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Simple!



Sesame Carrot Ribbon Salad

1 batch Basic Carrot Ribbon Salad
sesame oil (a few drops)
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds

To a basic carrot ribbon salad recipe, add a few drops of sesame oil – it’s very strong stuff, so don’t overdo it.  Add black sesame seeds, varying the amount to your own personal taste.  (I like lots of them.)

This salad looks like Hallowe’en to me, which is one of the reasons I love it!  It’s wonderful all year round, and sesame is a great source of vitamins and minerals, particularly copper, manganese, iron, and vitamin B1.



Curried Carrot Ribbon Salad

1 batch Basic Carrot Ribbon Salad
1 teaspoon curry powder (I like Sambhar or Madras)
1 teaspoon garam masala
squeeze of lime

Toss basic carrot ribbon salad with spices.  Squeeze lime over and serve – it’s that easy!  Garam masala can be a touch spicy, so if that’s not your thing, feel free to reduce or even eliminate it from this dish.  If you want to get fancy, you can garnish this with a few sprigs of cilantro.  Mmmmmm, cilantro.

Curry is another ingredient that has amazing health benefits.  In particular, it is good for memory and is thought to stave off degenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s if you eat it on a regular basis throughout your life.  It’s not difficult to do at all – curry is wonderful added to scrambled eggs or egg salad, sprinkled over potatoes, stirred into bean dishes (especially chickpeas), or stewed with chicken, fish or vegetables – especially carrots.  Go nuts!  A little curry is better than no curry at all.

There you have it!  One simple but delicious carrot salad, dressed up in two very different but equally wonderful variations.  Try these, and play around with your own ideas – and if you think of something good, please let me know!  I’m always in the market for new ways to eat carrot ribbon salad.