Tuna and White Bean Salad: A San Francisco Treat

30 Apr

I am a bit of a cookbook addict. Give me a nice cookbook with big, pretty pictures and I’ll curl up with it like a good novel. I am like a kid in a candy store in the cookbook section of a bookstore and I have amassed quite the cookbook collection. The only problem… I don’t often cook out of them. One of the reasons I started this little blog was to force myself to start making some of those recipes that  I’ve endlessly flipped through.

One book on my shelf that has been particularly neglected is the William-Sonoma San Francisco cookbook. It’s a beautiful book that is half recipes, half guide to the city’s culinary scene, filled with interesting anecdotes about the city and food from the region. I have read it many times. Have I made anything from it… not so much.  So last week I pulled it out and settled on Seared Tuna with White Bean Salad for a light and fresh dinner.

And how were the results? Tasty. Though the white bean salad, even with all the fresh herbs, red onion etc was still a little bland to me. The next day however, the leftovers tasted much better. Maybe the flavors just needed a little time to marry up? Either way this is a pretty easy light meal for spring or summer and there is nothing wrong with that.

Seared Ahi Tuna with Warm White Bean Salad

From the WIlliam-Sonoma San Francisco Cookbook


For Cooking the Beans

1 cup dried cannellini beans
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 4 or 5 chunks
1 celery stalk, cut into 4 or 5 chunks
1/2 yellow onion
1 garlic clove, lightly smashed
fine sea salt

For the Bean Salad

1 large tomato, cored, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 small red onion, minced
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 ahi tuna steaks
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. To cook the beans, pick them over, discarding any misshapen beans and grit. Rinse well, place in a bowl with water to cover generously, and let soak overnight. Drain the beans, put in sauce pan, and add carrot celery, onion, and garlic and water to cover by one inch. Place over medium low heat and bring to a simmer slowly. Cover and adjust the heat to maintain a bare simmer. Cook until the beans are tender, about 45 minutes or longer, depending on their age. Remove from the heat, season to taste with salt, and let cool in the liquid until just warm. Remove and discard the carrot, celery, onion and garlic.

2. To make the bean salad, drain the warm beans, reserving the liquid for soup. Put the beans in a bowl and add the tomato, red onion, garlic, basil, parsley, olive oil, and vinegar. Stir gently, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. To prepare the tuna, using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, finely grind the fennel seeds. Rub the tuna steaks on both sides with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season on both sides with salt, pepper and fennel seeds.

4. Choose a heavy frying pan large enough to hold all the tuna steaks in a single layer without touching or use two smaller pans. Place over high heat until hot, then add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom. When the oil is hot, add the tuna steaks, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until nicely colored on the bottom and cook about halfway through, 1 minute or longer, depending on thickness. Turn and cook until the steaks are moist and pink, about one minute longer.

5. Divide the tuna among warmed individual plates. Surround with the warm white bean salad. Serve at once.

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