I like rare tuna appetizers more than main dishes. I don’t have a good explanation for this, expect that when tuna is as rare as I like it, it’s still cool inside, and cool dishes usually make better appetizers than mains. Of course, there is nothing to prevent you from making a really large appetizer and having that for dinner, which is what I did last night. Some appetizers are too good to only have a few bites.
I adopted this dish from Casablanca restaurant in Cambridge, where I used to work. It’s really 3 separate little dishes:
- the tuna
- green bean salad dressed with olive tapenade
- and deviled eggs
You’ll have plenty of tapenade leftover, which is not the worst problem to have. Serve it on bread along with your tuna and keep leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Serves 4 as a first course
For Deviled Eggs
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp mayo (Hellmann’s works great)
2 tsp heavy cream
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp chopped herbs (chives, parsley, dill, or cilantro)
For Green Beans and Tapenade
2/3 Lb haricot verts (baby green beans), snapped
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
2 tsp drained capers (optional)
1 anchovy fillet (optional)
2 Tbsp olive oil
A squirt of lemon (about 1/2 tsp)
1 Lb tuna steak (first grade)
2 tsp butter
Salt and pepper
To make Deviled Eggs
- Put eggs in a small saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 3 minutes. Take off heat and let sit 20 minutes before draining and peeling.
- Peel the eggs and half them lengthwise. Remove the yolks into a small bowl and mix them with mayo, cream, mustard, and herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stuff the mixture back into egg whites. Cover with plastic and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Prepare a medium bowl with ice-water.
- Add the beans to the boiling water, and cook just until they lose the grassy taste, but remain crunchy, 2-3 minutes. It's better to undercook than overcook. Remove them with a slotted spoon to a bowl with ice-water and cool completely, about 5 minutes. Drain the beans and dry well on paper towels.
- To make tapenade, combine olives, capers, anchovy, and olive oil in a bowl of a food processor, and purée until they form a paste. If the mixture is too dry, add more olive oil.
- Mix green beans with 2 Tbsp of olive tapenade, a squirt of lemon, salt and pepper to taste.
- Dry tuna well on paper towels and season generously with salt and coarsely ground black pepper.
- Set a medium skillet over high heat. When hot, add the butter and wait for it to melt. Place the tuna in the skillet and cook 1 and 1/2 minutes. Flip and cook 1 and 1/2 minutes longer. No need to check for doneness. Tuna will be nice and rare – I promise.
- Remove tuna from heat and slice against the grain.
- Divide the beans among 4 plates, top with tuna and drizzle with a little olive oil. Add 2 egg halves to each plate and serve with good bread and extra tapenade on the side.