Friday, August 17, 2012

Summer Pasta Salad with Fresh Tuna

I've been posting quite a few salad recipes lately but I can't help it.  I love salads and they're so perfect for summer.  This version has pasta and grilled fresh tuna together with a lot of veggies so it's very healthy and very easy.  If you don't like grilled tuna you could always substitute a high-quality canned tuna or even grilled chicken and it would be equally good.  I just like to have fish on the menu at least once or twice a week because it's good for you and it gives variety to your diet.

Growing up in the Midwest we typically cooked all meats until they were shoe leather so we wouldn't get trichinosis or salmonella or whatever.  I had a revelation about tuna when I was attending a sales meeting on east coast at a seafood restaurant and was planning to order the tuna.  The guy sitting across from me lived in Maine and was an avid sport fisherman.  He looked at me and said "please don't order it medium-well or well done".  Really?  He explained that high quality tuna should be eaten raw, rare or medium-rare for the best flavor and texture.  I wasn't too sure about rare so I ordered medium-rare and was pleasantly surprised.  Since then I've progressed to rare on occasion but I'm still not a sushi person.  I've tried it several times but the texture gets me every time - it's just too mushy.  Don't get me wrong, I really want to like sushi.  I feel like any foodie worth their salt should like sushi.  I see little kids eating sushi in restaurants all the time, but the best I can manage is a California roll.  Embarrassing but true.  Anyway, buy the best quality tuna you can find - preferably fresh - and don't overcook it.

sashimi grade fresh yellowfin tuna
You could make this salad at any time of the year if you just substitute frozen corn for fresh - the rest of the ingredients are available year-round.  I used whole-wheat penne to boost the fiber a little more.  The salad can be served warm, room temperature or cold.

* * click here for a printable recipe * *

Summer Pasta Salad with Fresh Tuna
Serves 4

8 oz penne (regular or whole wheat)
1 lb fresh tuna steak, about ¾” thick
¼ cup olive oil
1 ear of fresh corn, husk and silk removed
1 jar (6-7 oz) roasted red peppers, chopped
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
1/3 cup pitted black olives, coarsely chopped
¼ cup roughly chopped parsley
2 lemons
2 tablespoons snipped chives
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and drop in the corn. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and let simmer for 8 minutes. Remove the corn from the pot and immediately submerge in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. After a minute or two, remove the corn from the water, pat dry, and cut the kernels from the cob.

In the same pot of boiling water, cook the penne until al dente. When the pasta is done drain it, rinse under cool water, and drain again.

In a large bowl combine the olive oil, peppers, red pepper flakes, corn, zucchini, olives, and parsley. Add the juice of one of the lemons. Mix again and add salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat a grill to highest heat. Grill the tuna for 1-2 minutes per side until it has nice grill marks but is still rare to medium-rare in the middle. Let rest for a few minutes, then cut in thin slices.

Serve the tuna slices on top of the pasta salad and garnish with chives. Cut the remaining lemon into quarters and serve with the salads.

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