Grilled tuna with olive and caper orzo

Can you keep a simple secret?

Originally appeared in the May 19, 2011 edition of the Southside Times.


Something simple—that was my goal for this week.  An uncomplicated entrée: grilled tuna—light, delicate, perfect for a temperate day in May.  Afterward I started mentally leafing through proper accompaniments.  Pasta and rice sounded nice, but what variety?  And then a compromise came to mind—a starch possessing elements of both.  Read more after the jump:Owing to its distinctive shape (similar in dimension to Arborio rice or pine nuts), the Greek word for orzo (kritharaki) dually refers to both pasta and barley.  For this recipe, I’ve added chopped olives and capers to lend a Mediterranean accent to the dish.

With tuna, the “pro” is that there’s very little fat.  But the “con” is that the lack of fat can also be the dish’s undoing.  Anything exceeding medium-well is going to damage the texture and make it too dry.  Pull the fish from the heat when it’s about halfway done, and let it rest for about seven minutes.  The tuna will “carry-over cook,” maintaining essential juices and a beautiful blush color.

Tuna, orzo, and a nice vegetable—a simple dish with intricate flavors.  So if your family thinks you’ve outdone yourself, go ahead and let them believe it.  You and I know better.

Grilled tuna with olive and caper orzo

Serves 2

  • 2, eight-ounce tuna steaks
  • 1 cup dry orzo pasta
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 – 5 pitted kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • As needed, kosher salt and cracked black pepper

1.  In a medium pot, bring a generous amount of salted water to a rolling boil.  Pour in orzo and cook until nearly done.  Drain well and return to pot.  Add butter, olives, capers, herbs, and season to taste.  Cover and reserve.

2.  Heat grill and brush with oil.  Season both sides of tuna steaks with salt and pepper.  Place on grill.  After two minutes, rotate the position of the steak from “twelve o’clock” to “two o’clock,” creating diamond-shaped cross-hatches.  After several minutes flip the fish and repeat process.  Remove tuna from heat, cover, and allow to rest for about seven minutes before serving with warm orzo and vegetable of choice.

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Published in: on May 19, 2011 at 3:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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