The contrasting textures of the buttery smooth tuna, the crunchy celery, and the earthy beans provide a tantalizing combination. Toasting the peppercorns and fennel seeds awakens their flavors and releases their deep aromas. Butter peas, a delicate shell pea somewhere between fresh black-eyed peas and butter beans, are a favorite choice, but canned chickpeas are a dependably good alternative. If truffles are unavailable, or not in the budget, substitute a julienne of button mushrooms with a drizzle of truffle oil.
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
One 8-ounce piece of center-cut tuna loin, about 3 by 3 by 4 inches
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup cooked butter peas or drained and rinsed canned chickpeas
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
One 1- to 2-ounce black truffle or 3 large button mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned, and cut into julienne strips
1 shallot, finely minced
gated zest and juice of 1 lemon
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons black truffle oil or more if desired
Heat a small heavy sauté pan over high heat. Add the olive oil and sear the tuna on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes total; it will still be very rare inside. Transfer the tuna to a rack set over a plate to rest.
To prepare the salad, combine the celery, peas, roasted pepper, truffle, shallot, and lemon zest in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Toss with the extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and truffle oil.
Slice the tuna crosswise into 1/8-to 1/4-inch-thick slices and arrange like a sunburst in a circle on each of four serving plates. Place the salad in the center and garnish with the reserved celery leaves. Drizzle the tuna with any remaining dressing from the bowl, or a little extra truffle oil, if desired.
Ease of Preparation: Moderate
Preparation Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Recipe By: Frank Stitt
From: Frank Stitt's Southern Table: Recipes and Gracious Traditions from Highlands Bar and Grill
Used with permission of Workman Publishing Company