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LITTLE GEM LETTUCES WITH OLIVE OIL-POACHED TUNA

March 29th, 2019

Serves 4

This dish requires a lot of olive oil for poaching, but you won’t waste a drop. Use some of the flavorful poaching oil in the salad dressing; strain and refrigerate the remainder for cooking greens or for dressing future salads. The strained oil will keep for a month. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Rosé or Sauvignon Blanc.

Ingredients
1 albacore tuna steak, about 10 ounces (315 g) and
3⁄4 to 1 inch (2 to 2.5 cm) thick
3⁄4 teaspoon ground fennel seed
3⁄4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 large fresh thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, halved
6 black peppercorns
1 3⁄4 to 2 cups (430 to 500 ml) extra virgin olive oil
dressing
6 tablespoons (90 ml) extra virgin olive oil (from the tuna baking dish)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon salt-packed capers, rinsed and finely minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1⁄2 cups (280 g) cooked chickpeas (drain and rinse if canned)
1⁄2 pound (250 g) Little Gem lettuce or romaine hearts
1⁄4 pound (125 g) radicchio
1⁄2 red onion, shaved or very thinly sliced
3⁄4 cup (125 g) halved cherry tomatoes
1⁄4 cup (10 g) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions
Preheat the oven to 200°F (95°C). Remove the tuna from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.

Season the tuna on both sides with the fennel seed and salt. Put the tuna in a deep ovenproof baking dish just large enough to hold it. Add the thyme, bay leaf, garlic, and peppercorns. Pour in enough olive oil just to cover the tuna.

Bake until a few white dots (coagulated protein) appear on the surface of the fish and the flesh just begins to flake when probed with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes. The tuna should still be slightly rosy inside. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature in the oil.

Make the dressing: In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, capers, oregano, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the chickpeas and let them marinate for 30 minutes.

With a slotted spatula, lift the tuna out of the olive oil and onto a plate.

Put the lettuce in a large salad bowl. Tear the larger outer leaves in half, if desired, but leave the pretty inner leaves whole. Tear the radicchio into bite-size pieces and add to the bowl along with the onion, tomatoes, and parsley.

Using a slotted spoon, add the chickpeas, then add enough of the dressing from the chickpea bowl to coat the salad lightly. By hand, flake the tuna into the bowl.

Toss, taste for salt and vinegar, and serve.

Pairing Suggestions:

Akash Winery ~ 2017 Parlez-Vous Rosé – A bright candied apple appearance matches the aromas on this Zinfandel rosé.

Hart Winery ~ 2016 Sauvignon Blanc – With citrus notes of guava and tangerine, a subtle herbal undertone and a clean peach finish.

Ponte Winery ~ 2018 Pas Doux – Its notes of strawberry and rose with a pleasantly balanced acidity make it a staple for everything from a springtime brunch to the dinner table.

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa ~ 2016 Tempranillo Rosé -Lightly sweet and abundantly fruity, the crisp finish make this Tempranillo Rosé a great warm weather sipper.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute

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