Tuna is the star in this quick dinner recipe that riffs off Sicilian flavors — fennel, red bell pepper, capers, lemon and herbs.
Last week I found a decent looking, big piece of tuna on sale at my local supermarket (Lowes Foods). Jim’s not into the usual ahi preparation – seared on the outside, raw in the middle – so I had to come up with something different. I couldn’t find a recipe that fit my mood so I combined a bunch of flavors and came up with my own recipe.
I had a bunch of leftover black garlic roasted potatoes – that was my start. Scanning the frig, I saw fennel, red bell pepper, herbs and lemon. I started writing down ingredients and then put them into cooking order. The resulting dish was full of flavor. Real comfort food.
Why Sicilian tuna? Because tuna, fennel, peppers, capers and lemon conjure up an image of lunch alongside a rocky Sicilian shore. Not that I’ve ever done that, but a girl can dream.
If you don’t happen to have roasted potatoes lying around, you could take time to make some or you could use white beans instead. The rest of the dish takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.
Sicilian Tuna and Potatoes
You’ll need a large sauté pan.
- Olive oil
- Large piece of tuna – I cut mine into pieces
- Medium onion or leek, sliced
- Fennel bulb, green stems removed, base and any brown bits trimmed, sliced
- Red, orange or yellow bell pepper, stem and seeds/ribs removed, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
- 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
- 3/4 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Roasted potato cubes or wedges (or white beans), about 2 cups
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- Lemon juice, to taste
- Salt and ground black pepper
- Optional: 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- Garnish: chopped fresh parsley and basil
Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add tuna (or tuna pieces) and cook on both sides until it’s done to your liking. Remove to a plate.
Add more oil to the pan if needed. Sauté onion, fennel and red bell pepper until softened. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, ground fennel and capers, stirring frequently, until fragrant and sizzling but not browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until softened.
Add wine, bring to simmer and cook about 1 minute. Stir in tuna, potatoes, parsley, basil, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper and cook a few minutes. Turn off heat. Stir in butter if you’re using it. Taste for salt and pepper and add more, if needed. You could also sprinkle it with a little more parsley and basil.