Monday, March 28, 2011

Swiss Chard and Beans with Seared Tuna

Like most kids, I was not a fan of veggies when I was young. Especially peas and broccoli. Actually, unless it was topped with cheese and sauce and ended with the letters "izza", I really wanted nothing to do with it.

Today I'm still not a big fan of peas or broccoli (luckily my kids are, thanks to my wife), but my love for leafy greens has grown tremendously. Broccoli rabe/bitter broccoli is one of my favorite side dishes to make. Sauté with a little garlic and oil, and you're good to go. I couldn't think of a better sandwich topper! Escarole, of course, is the key ingredient to our holiday soup. I've also had some fun experimenting with escarole (you can check out my other escarole recipes here). Spinach is an often go-to as well, although I prefer to eat it as a fresh salad. The fresh-to-wilted ratio after it cooks is almost heart-breaking.

This week, I'm using another favorite green in a very traditional, old world dish. Swiss chard is a leafy green that is somewhat similar to spinach. It has a slightly bitter taste and can be used raw in salads. However, when cooked it loses its bitterness for a more refined, delicate taste than spinach. It's also loaded with vitamins, fiber, minerals and protein. 

For this recipe, I'm going to sauté chopped swiss chard in some olive oil, garlic and onions. I'm adding one 15 oz can of white kidney beans and some salt and pepper to taste, then topping it with slices of seared tuna and fresh lemon juice. The slight bitterness of the greens, mixed with the flavors of the garlic and onion, the tang of the lemon and the creamy texture of the cooked beans is amazing. The end result is a delicious, earthy, rustic side dish. Now, if you're not a fan of tuna, grilled shrimp, steak or sausage will also work well. Or you can serve it without any additional topping as a side dish.

Serves two

1 bunch swiss chard, washed and chopped
1/4 cup white onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tbspn olive oil
1 15oz can of white kidney beans
1/4 cup warm water
salt and pepper to taste
1 fresh piece tuna steak

FIrst you'll want to sear the tuna (see directions below). When steak is done, place on a dish, cover loosely with aluminum foil and set aside.

In a large pan, sauté garlic and onions in olive oil until translucent. Add swiss chard leaves, beans and water. Cook until swiss chard is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drain excess liquid. Place the swiss chard and beans on two plates. Slice the tuna into thin pieces, place on top of the chard and beans. Top with a squirt of fresh lemon juice. Serve with rustic bread.

Searing tuna sounds intimidating, but is actually very easy. Follow these simple steps, courtesy of, and you'll be good to go!

1. Remove the tuna steak from the refrigerator. Allow the steak to sit out at room temperature for 1/2 to 1 hour before you begin cooking.

2. Use a paper towel to dry excess moisture from the tuna steaks. Simply pat the paper towel on both sides of the steak to remove marinade or condensation from the meat.

3. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil or butter to a pan over medium-high heat. Tilt the pan to spread the oil or butter across the surface and coat the pan.

4.  Place the tuna steak on the hot pan.

5. Sear each side for two minutes. Do not move the meat around too much while it sears. Gently shake the pan after two minutes, and if the tuna steak releases from the surface, you can flip it on its other side. It is important to make sure that the edged are seared, but you want the inside of the tuna steak 

6.  Make a small cut in the center of the tuna steak with a knife. Inspect the inside to make sure that the middle of the steak stays rare and red in color.

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