I have to be honest. Although I thought this combination was fantastic, full of flavour and pizzazz, my Critic wasn't wild about it. Too French, he said. Next time I'll sprinkle some hot pepper flakes on his portion and I'll bet he raves about it. But for those of you who do not observe the ABF (Anything But French) rule, it's a great combination.
Smoky red peppers keep the tuna from being too dry. The garlicky, mustard-y beans are serious comfort food and compliment the flavors perfectly. It's just the kind of meal to make you think of sunny Provence and the sunshine that is finally starting to clear our minds of winter cobwebs.
Grilled Tuna with Roast Red Pepper Sauce and Garlicky Beans
2 tuna steaks
1 large red pepper
1 clove garlic
1 Tbs fresh or frozen chopped basil
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs olive oil
12 (one tin) anchovies
2 cups cooked white beans (I used a jar for convenience and they were great)
1 Tbs chopped garlic (1-2 cloves)
1 heaping tablespoon sharp mustard
3 tablespoons of your best olive oil (I used the oil from my friend Sam's groves in Australia, Rowallan Olive Oil)
1/2 cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
juice of half a lemon
Cut the red pepper in half and remove the seeds and the white bits from the inside. Place them skin side up on a cookie sheet and slide under the broiler or grill element on your oven. (Alternatively, you can hold them over a flame on the stovetop, but it will mean you can't just leave them to cook on their own while you do other things!) When the skin has burned black and the flesh is tender (about 15 minutes) remove the halves to a plastic bag. Tie the bag tightly and put it in the refrigerator to cool for a few minutes. When you can handle the pepper halves, remove them from the bag and carefully peel away the skin. Some of the unblackened bits may not want to come away; just leave them as they'll get processed anyway. Put the pepper, garlic and basil in a blender or the small container of your immersion blender and whizz until you have a smooth paste. Chop half the anchovies and mix into the sauce, reserving the remainder for garnishing. You might want to add a little olive oil if you like your sauce thinner.
While the peppers are cooling, start your beans. Rinse the beans if they are the store-bought variety and cover them barely with water. Add the garlic and bring to a boil. They will start smelling garlicky and tempting. Turn down the heat to a simmer until you are nearly ready to serve them. Just before serving, drain the beans and stir in the mustard,olive oil, lemon juice and parsley. The parsley will wilt with the heat of the beans, a bit like spinach. Taste for seasoning; depending on your beans it may need a generous dose of salt.
To prepare the tuna steaks, heat a grill pan until it is nearly smoking. Brush them with olive oil and cook them until they are just barely done. I know it's fashionable to serve tuna seared on the outside and raw on the inside, but personally I prefer keeping my sushi and cooked tuna in separate dishes. I like it just barely pink in the middle, so that the fish is still nice and juicy and tender but the texture is consistent throughout the steak.
Drizzle the sauce over the steaks and lay a few anchovies on top. Dish up the beans on the side and enjoy an extremely tasty mediterranean meal. (Sorry, but I don't agree with my Critic on this one!)