Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

I’ve never been to the Mediterranean coast so I have no business attaching that name to a made-up recipe. But this is my playground so I’ll do it anyway. In my fantasy Mediterranean seaside home I usually start with some type of exquisite shellfish. For my main course I might have this tuna with a glass of chilled wine and some crusty bread to sop up any sauce. I suppose I should have a vegetable in there somewhere, maybe a fresh from the garden green salad after the tuna. I like to finish with cheese and fruit. Like I said, it’s Mediterranean my way.

In real life I went to the seafood counter to buy some tuna but the fillets were gigantic. I was debating whether I wanted to make two giant fillets when I heard the lady ahead of me purchase some bay scallops. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll make one gigantic tuna fillet to split in half and sauté some bay scallops on the side with the tarragon that’s still hanging out in the vegetable drawer.

And that’s exactly what I did. I sautéed the bay scallops in butter and olive oil with a little garlic. Toward the end I added chopped tarragon and topped it with a bit of parmesan cheese.

I had a vague idea for the tuna – something with olives and tomatoes. I knew I had onions and mushrooms at home already so they would be part of the picture, along with garlic, of course. I thought dry vermouth would add a nice herby touch. Basil, always handy on the back porch, would be a natural in this combination of flavors. Voilà!

I made my brain-free Broccoli with Garlic and Hot Pepper and baked nuked (in 12 minutes!) sweet potatoes for the sides. It was quite the feast for a weeknight, but didn’t take much time at all. Chop all your ingredients at one time, for example, don’t chop garlic each time you need it, chop it all at once for the tuna, scallops and broccoli. It’s a three burner meal but you can focus on one pan at a time when it’s critical, like when you’re searing the tuna, sautéing garlic or sautéing scallops.

Mediterranean My Way Tuna

  • 2 tuna fillets
  • Salt and pepper
  • Onion, sliced
  • Mushrooms, sliced (same amount as the onion)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced
  • 1 cup (or so) grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth
  • 1/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives (or more)
  • 1 tablespoon slivered basil

Sprinkle tuna with salt and pepper. Sear in pan on medium-high heat for about two minutes per side. Remove to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium. Sauté onion and mushrooms until starting to soften. Add garlic and cook for about one minute. Add tomatoes and dry vermouth. Turn heat to medium-low and cook until the tomatoes have “melted” a bit.

Add tuna back to the pan along with the olives and basil. Let simmer until tuna is done to your liking, only a minute or two for me. I like a thin pink section in the middle, but honestly, cooking time is a guessing game with me. I wish I remembered how cooked tuna feels when you poke it, but I don’t, so I’ll often cheat and slice into it for a peek. Whatever works.

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