Though deeply rooted in ancient Greece, this piquant dish is sensational when made with premium Australian olive oils and wines. If you can, buy sushi-grade tuna steaks.
For the tuna:
- 4 tuna steaks (each 6 to 8 ounces and 1 inch thick)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
- About 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 small ripe tomato, peeled and seeded, then finely chopped
- 2 cups dry red wine, preferably Australian
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 sprig fresh thyme, or 1/4 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 cup black olives, preferably tiny niçoise olives, pitted
- 2 tablespoons drained capers
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
Brush the tuna steaks on both sides with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the tuna in a baking dish, cover it, and let marinate, in the refrigerator, for 30 minutes.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the red wine, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, olives, and capers and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer briskly until the sauce is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
Remove the sauce from the heat and discard the thyme sprig and bay leaf. Whisk in the remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste; the sauce should be highly seasoned. Cover and keep warm.
Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. (Alternatively, use a grill pan.)
When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the tuna steaks, facing in the same direction, on the hot grill grate. Grill the tuna steaks until cooked to taste, 1 to 2 minutes per side for rare, 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium-rare, turning them carefully with a spatula.
Transfer the steaks to serving plates or a platter and serve at once with the sauce spooned on top.
Serves 4 — Recipe from The Barbecue! Bible by Steven Raichlen (Workman 2008)
This versatile Italian sauce is traditionally served over poached veal. But we love it on chicken, crudités, cooked vegetables (like green beans), and even as a sandwich spread. For mayo, try Japanese Kewpie, Duke’s, Hellmann’s, or Best Foods. You can customize the tonnato by adding a pinch of red pepper flakes, a splash of hot sauce, Calabrian chile paste, or even fresh chile peppers.
- 7 ounces canned or jarred best-quality tuna packed in olive oil, drained
- 2 to 4 anchovies packed in olive oil, drained
- 2 tablespoons brined capers, drained
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- Freshly ground black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a blender jar. (Use just a pinch of salt to begin with as the capers are salty. You can always add more if needed.) Process until the mixture is smooth, like pourable cream. Transfer to an attractive bowl. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days if not serving immediately.
Serves 4 to 6 as a starter — Recipe adapted from nomnompaleo.com
Perfect for a weeknight, this easy meal (it can be served right from the sheet pan, which reduces clean-up time) is more impressive when made with different varieties of mushrooms. Feel free to substitute chicken breasts for the thighs if you or your family prefer white meat.
- 1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for the sheet pan
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 pound assorted mushrooms, washed, trimmed, and cut into uniform pieces
- 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley and/or chives
Heat the oven to 450°F (or 425°F if you have a convection oven) with the rack in the upper middle.
Combine the shallots, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, coconut aminos, fish sauce, and salt in a large bowl. Stir well, then add the chicken to the marinade. Lift the chicken from the marinade and shake any excess back into the bowl. Transfer the chicken and shallots to a rimmed baking sheet that’s been drizzled with olive oil. (Leave the marinade in the bowl.)
Add the mushrooms to the marinade. Toss gently to coat, then transfer them to the rimmed sheet pan, dispersing them in a single layer among the chicken thighs and shallots. Discard the marinade.
Place the sheet pan dinner in the oven and roast for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the tray 180° at the halfway point. Continue to roast until the chicken is cooked through (a meat thermometer should read 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh) and the liquid from the mushrooms has mostly cooked off.
Transfer to a platter, if desired, and sprinkle with fresh herbs. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from nomnompaleo.com
Delight family or dinner guests with this decadent cream-filled cheese (a member of the pasta filata, or “pulled cheese,” family). Here, it’s partnered with sweet grilled grape skewers and exquisite best-quality olive oil. For the salt, I recommend Australia’s flaky, apricot-colored Murray River salt.
- 12 ounces seedless red grapes, pulled off the vine
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed, divided use
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dark or light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted fennel seeds, lightly crushed, divided use
- Flaky sea salt, such as Murray River (see above) or Maldon
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- 3 balls of burrata or buffalo mozzarella
- Small basil sprigs, for serving
Put the grapes in a medium bowl with the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, sugar, 1 teaspoon of the fennel seeds, 1/4 teaspoon of flaked salt, and plenty of pepper. Mix well and marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. Thread 5 or 6 grapes onto each of 12 skewers. Reserve the marinade for serving.
Place a grill pan over high heat and ventilate your kitchen well. Once hot, add the grape skewers in batches and grill for 2 to 3 minutes, turning after 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
To serve, tear the balls of burrata in half and place one-half on each plate. Lean 2 grape skewers against each piece of cheese and spoon 1 1/2 teaspoon of the marinade over the cheese. Or arrange the cheese and grape skewers on a platter. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seed. Garnish with basil before serving.
Serves 6 as a starter — Recipe adapted from food52.com