Thursday, December 8, 2011

Steamed Tuna Steaks with Zucchini and some AWESOME (!) Bread

Jason and I have been cooking together for nearly 25 years (wow - that makes us sound really old!).  The first few years were filled with lots of ramen noodles and spaghetti (it was college - don't judge).  We then graduated to stir fry and the weekly menu looked something like this:

Monday - chicken stir fry with Worcestershire sauce
Tuesday - beef stir fry with soy sauce
Wednesday - chicken stir fry with store-bought marinade sauce
Thursday - beef stir fry with Worcestershire sauce

(you get the idea)

Jason grew up in a traditional home. He mother never was taught to cook (women's work, ya know).  I also grew up in a traditional home (once, when Grandpa was left alone for a week, he fried up and ate dog food patties that'd been left in the freezer), but my Dad - an Iowa farm boy - occasionally took to the kitchen.

It could be fear inducing.  His "dump soup" is family legend - and I still remember the peanut butter and jelly omelets he tried to pawn off on me and friend who'd spent the night.  But he could also whip up the basics - eggs, bacon, spaghetti, etc.  And mom made sure all of us - including my brother - left the home knowing how to cook.

Fast forward 25 years and Jason and I share duties in the kitchen and our repertoire has greatly expanded. But, our philosophies are still different.  He's a "recipe" cook who pays attention to detail and generally follows the rules. That's what makes him a good baker.  Much like my Dad, I'm a bit more "make it up as you go", occasionally combining random ingredients I find in the pantry and fridge, while praying it comes out alright.  Often, when I tell Jason what I'm making for dinner he'll politely inquire: "Is this a real recipe or something you made up?"

So, I ask you: how do you answer when it's a real recipe that you've tweaked so much it may not look much like the original?  Last night I made Rachael Ray's Rosemary Grilled Tuna Steaks with Eggplant and Zucchini.  The original recipe follows, with my changes noted in parenthesis.


  • 4 tuna steaks, 6 to 8 ounces each
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, just enough to lightly coat the steaks
  • 6 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves chopped, about 3 tablespoons (It's 30 degrees outside. We have no fresh rosemary. I'd planned to use dried rosemary, which one commenter on the original recipe site said worked fine, but I forgot. Oh well!)
  • steak seasoning blend or coarse salt & pepper (I opted for the latter)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for drizzling (didn't use this - see explanation below) 
Eggplant and Zucchini Topping Ingredients 

  •  2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small, young, firm eggplant, chopped (we're not eggplant fans, so we left this out)
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1 small yellow squash, chopped
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves chopped (30 degrees. Nothing growing. Didn't feel like spending $4 for a small packet of fresh thyme)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 small vine ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced (I'm the only one who likes tomatoes, so I used one and didn't bother with seeding since the seeds don't bother me. In fact, I ate 1/2 of the tomato whole while prepping the meal.)
Preheat grill pan to high. Coat tuna in balsamic and season with rosemary, salt and pepper. Drizzle fish with oil, coating lightly on both sides. ***

Preheat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons EVOO. Add garlic and onion and saute 2-3 minutes. Add zucchini and squash to the pan, turn to coat and combine with garlic and onion.  Add eggplant, thyme, salt and pepper (again, no eggplant or thyme in ours). Cook, stirring frequently, 10 minutes, until veggies are fork tender. 

Grill tuna, 2-3 minutes on each side for rare, up to 6 minutes on each side for well done.   (***Note: I opted to steam the tuna instead of grill it. It's easier and saves calories. Just put about 1.5 inches of water in bottom of steamer - I use a microwave one - and steam tuna stakes for 8-10 minutes). 

When tuna is done and veggies are fork tender, stir the chopped tomatoes into the eggplant/zucchini mix and remove from pan.  Serve the tuna topped with the vegetable salsa. 

Consider serving it with this awesome Vegetable Antipasto Stuffed Bread, also from Rachael Ray (this time, with only minor tweaks):

  • 1 loaf crusty bread, 9 - 12 inches in length
  • parsley (no amount give in Rachael's recipe. I sprinkled a bunch of dried parsely into the pesto mix)
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 cup black pitted calamata or oil cured olives, chopped (we used green, pimento-stuffed olives)
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto sauce
  • 1/4 pound deli sliced provolone (we used shredded mozzarella)
  • 1 jar, 16 to 18 roasted red peppers, drained (we used significantly less than that #. Maybe 2 total)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts in water, drained (we also used significantly less than that. Maybe 2 artichoke hearts total)
  • 1 cup giardiniera (a.k.a. pickled vegetables... can include hot pickled peppers, cauliflower, carrots, etc. I found it near the pickles at Publix. You can also find it in the Italian foods aisle)
  • salt and pepper
  • EVOO for drizzling
Cut the top off a loaf of crusty bread. Hollow out the inside of the bread.  Mix parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and pesto sauce in a bowl. 

Spread the mixture evenly across the bottom of the hallowed out bread. 

Layer cheese into the loaf, then the roasted red peppers on top of the cheese. 

Add the artichoke hearts over the peppers.

And sprinkle the chopped hot pickled veggies on top and drizzle with some EVOO.

Replace the top, then cut the stuffed loaf into pieces and serve.  I am in love with this recipe!  So simple, so tasty.... (even if the kids don't like it.  To quote Olivia, "Um, yeah... I don't like that stuff.  But the tuna was good!" 


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