For years, my good friend Sue Hall has made a favorite dish of white beans topped with grilled tuna… It might have been enhanced by some earthy fragrant rosemary or a few onions, depending on the day. Healthy, luscious, I remember this plate of goodness as one of the perfect al fresco summer meals.
When I bought some cryovac-packed tuna steaks at my local grocery (frozen fish=good idea in Colorado/great value), I thought of Sue and wondered how many times I’d seen her make this tuna meal albeit with fresh tuna. While I’m not at the beach where Sue loves to cook, I’m happy to be home cooking in my own kitchen…
after two weeks of restaurant and cruise food. Even Italian, Greek, Turkish, or Croatian restaurant and cruise food!
(Below– from our trip: Yummy Izmir, Turkey breakfast with honey and orange marmalade where I put a big piece of what I thought was cheese on my bread and found out it was a half-inch thick, 4″x2″ piece of butter-see bottom of photo!)
Here’s my spin on this happy fish meal. I filled it out with a root vegetable hash mixed with time-saving canned cannellini beans, placed it on a frame of asparagus for greenery, and topped the tuna with barely steamed scallions along with the bonus: a huge thick piece of crispy bacon. Thanks, Sue! (From top left, clockwise: Sue, Lani, Kim, and I at our last beach trip.)
BACON AND GREEN ONION TUNA STEAKS ON CANNELLINI BEAN HASH
This dish might appear cumbersome, but it comes together very easily. While the bacon cooks, grill or roast the asparagus and divide between the plates. Sauté root vegetables in the bacon fat, add the beans at the end, and when it’s all tender and crispy, grill or pan-cook the tuna for 2 minutes on each side. Add the hash to the plated asparagus, then place tuna garnished with green onions and bacon on top. Drizzle with olive oil and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature with reserved fennel fronds. Very friendly all-in-one dish quickly made using a stovetop grill pan for the asparagus and tuna if outdoor grilling isn’t available or the weather’s unkind.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 4 pieces thick bacon
- 3/4 pound asparagus
- Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and crushed red pepper
- 2 medium onions, chopped coarsely
- 2 cups thinly sliced small potatoes
- 4 medium carrots, thinly sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, cored chopped (reserve fronds for garnish)
- 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can cannellini beans (white kidney beans) drained –could sub white northern beans
- Canola oil
- 4 Tuna steaks
- 4 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced at a very sharp angle
- MAKE THE BACON: Heat a large, deep sauté pan or skillet over medium flame; drizzle in 1 tablespoon olive oil evenly in pan. When shimmering, add bacon and cook until quite crispy, turning just once. Remove from pan and let rest on paper toweling for garnish at end of cooking. Set aside.
- GRILL or roast THE ASPARAGUS: Toss asparagus with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Grill over high heat in a stovetop grill pan or on the outdoor grill, until softened and beginning to brown. Alternately, roast on a half-sheet pan in a 425 degree F oven for 10 minutes or so. Divide asparagus between 4 serving plates or large, shallow bowls, which make for a beautiful presentation. Set aside.
- COOK THE HASH: Add the onions, carrots, fennel, and rosemary to the bacon drippings in the sauté pan or skillet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Let cook perhaps 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until nearly tender (should be browned in spots–even crispy), adding garlic and cannellini beans for the last two minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Keep warm while you grill the tuna.
- GRILL THE TUNA: GIVE THIS YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION. Heat grill pan, large heavy skillet, or gas/charcoal grill over high flame. Spread both sides of the tuna with canola oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Cook two minutes on one side until dark grill marks appear; turn and cook for another minute. Add one sliced scallion (approximately) to the top of each tuna steak and cover the pan for another minute to both steam the onion and to finish cooking the tuna. (Medium rare tuna. If you’d like it medium, give it another 30 seconds on each side. If you cook it any more, you’ll have pork tenderloin, but si piace–do as you please.)
- PLATE AND SERVE: Spoon about a fourth of the hash (potato and bean mixture) on top of each serving of asparagus. Place a tuna steak and scallions at the center of the hash and drape with a piece of bacon. Garnish dishes with reserved fennel fronds. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and grind pepper over all, if desired.
Cook’s Notes: Should you wish to make this a bit more autumn or winter friendly, sub long thin steamed carrot or parsnip halves or quarters for the asparagus and leave the carrots out of the hash. As we get Fed-Ex asparagus all year long, I often keep cooking it throughout the fall and winter.
Any mixture of root vegetables would do in the hash as long as there is a mixture of colors and textures. Try 1/2-inch peeled pieces of acorn or butternut squash. Celery, too, would be a fine addition or substitution for the fennel.
Not a fish lover? You could grill a big, thick pork chop instead of tuna. I like the bone-in ones best, though the boneless version is more often available at a good price.
WINE: Moltepulciano di Abruzzo.
DESSERT: Chocolate covered almonds. Yes.
Cook a new tuna dish,