Seared tuna steak with salsa and cous-cous

Another low-cal, low-fat, low-carb quick lunch / dinner

seared tuna steak with salsa and cous-cous

This is another one of my quick lunches for the pre-surgery diet before I have my weight-loss surgery, though of course it’s a delicious dish in its own right.  If you are not following a strict pre-op diet for bariatric surgery, feel free to adjust the quantities, of course, though I found this to be surprisingly filling!

Ingredients (for one person)

  • small tuna steak (approx. 100g)
  • 3 small tomatoes
  • 2tbsp cooked cous-cous (seasoned with a pinch of salt at time of cooking)
  • salt (to taste)
  • garlic (to taste; fresh or granules – if fresh, crush or chop very finely)
  • chilli (to taste; fresh or powder – if fresh, chop very finely)
  • coriander leaves (to taste; fresh or dried – if fresh, chop finely)

Method

Cook the cous-cous and set aside. If you really want to give the whole dish a kick, you can add garlic and chilli to the cous-cous straight after cooking.

Cut the tomatoes into very small chunks, season to taste with salt, garlic, chilli and coriander leaves.  I used dry store-cupboard ingredients for this as I wanted a fuss-free, quick lunch, but of course you can use fresh ingredients for an even richer, fresher flavour! Set aside. 

Pre-heat a griddle or non-stick pan until it’s sizzling hot.  Lightly season the tuna with salt, garlic and chilli (powders work best here so you don’t burn the fresh ingredients, and they stay on the tuna steak better).  Place on the hot griddle and sear for a minute or two, then turn over and sear the other side.  The aim is for the middle to stay nice and pink (that’s how I like it, but of course you can cook it more thoroughly if you prefer your tuna well-cooked). 

Serve the tuna with the tomato salsa and cous-cous on the side. 

Gloriously simple, gloriously good!

Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or medical professional.  These are simply ideas based on meals I have created to suit my own dietary needs and, as I’ve enjoyed them, I wanted to share them. If you are unsure about the suitability of any ingredients or recipes on my blog for your own requirements, please check with a health professional first. 

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rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes

Rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes | Pomodori ripieni al riso con patate

This recipe for rice-stuffed tomatoes was originally my Nonna Wanda’s recipe, with the addition of potatoes made by my Zia Emilia to make it more authentically Roman.

Here is a photo of the recipe as cooked by my Zia Emilia in Rome on my last visit, in May 2017:

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes made by zia Emilia | pomodori ripieni di riso con le patate, fatti da zia Emilia

And here is my latest rendition of this delicious dish:

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes

The quantities and timings etc in this recipe are, as many of the recipes passed down from generation to generation in our family, vague and open to interpretation / personal touch, but I’ve tried to be a bit more precise so you can follow it, too 🙂

Ingredients (for 3-6 people, depending on whether it is a starter, main course, or side dish): 

  • 6 large beef tomatoes
  • Arborio rice (approximately 2 small fistfuls per tomato)
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley (a good handful)
  • Fresh basil (a good handful)
  • Half a medium onion
  • Freshly-grated parmesan cheese (a couple of handfuls)
  • Potatoes (5-6 medium sized ones) – watch this video for the best way to cut potatoes the Italian way
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt

Method

Here is the hand-written recipe written down by my Zia Emilia as dictated by her mum, my Nonna Wanda, when Zia Emilia was preparing to get married and leave home.  You can see the addition of the potatoes on page 2:

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes - hand-written recipe pg1

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes - hand-written recipe pg2

Start by cutting the potatoes.  Ideally, do these the Italian way (watch video) – this allows them to cook slightly unevenly, giving you lovely crispy edges and soft centres.

Tip: Cutting potatoes this way and roasting them with rosemary and olive oil is a delicious Italian way to do roast potatoes!

Place these into an oven dish and set aside for now.

Then cut the tops off the tomatoes (think little ‘hats’).  Slice two thin strips off the ‘discarded’ tomato tops and set aside (you’ll use these later for decoration, to top your stuffed tomatoes), and chop up the remaining ‘discarded’ tops into small pieces.  Add these small pieces to the potatoes.  Season the potatoes and tomato pieces with a generous sprinkling of sea salt, add a generous glug of olive oil, toss, and place in a pre-heated oven (fan-assisted 180­°C) for 25 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the rice: 

Place the rice in cold water, add a generous sprinkling of sea salt, and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or so (check this as not all rice cooks at the same rate – you want to make sure the rice is still a little bit uncooked at the end of this stage).

While the rice is cooking, finely chop the half onion and soften it in a pan with a generous amount of olive oil, over a low heat (let the onion soften slowly, making sure it does not go brown). Finely chop the parsley and basil, and add these to the onion just as the rice is nearly ready at the not quite cooked stage. Make sure you don’t fry the herbs for too long.

Drain the rice, leaving it quite wet, and saving the cooking water.  Add the rice to the pan with the olive oil, onion and herbs and stir, letting the rice continue to cook like a risotto.  You may need to add some of the cooking water to allow it to remain moist and cook until it is cooked, but still ‘al dente’. Make sure you don’t over-stir as this breaks up the rice grains.

Take it off the heat once it’s cooked and stir in about 2/3rds of the parmesan cheese.  Set aside.

Return to the tomatoes you previously removed the tops from. Carefully hollow these out with a spoon (the insides with the seeds are my favourite part of the tomato – I always used to eagerly await this stage when my Nonna made stuffed tomatoes, and still do when my Zia does them, so I could eat them, seasoned with a bit of salt).

Lightly season the insides of the hollow tomatoes with a sprinkling of sea salt.

Once the potatoes have had about 25 minutes in the oven, take the oven dish out and give them a bit of a stir. Turn the oven down to 150°C (fan).

Take each hollow tomato and fill it as high as you can with the cooked rice mixture. Make a space amongst the potatoes and place the tomato in that space.  Repeat with each tomato, then sprinkle some parmesan onto each stuffed tomato and, finally, top each one with two strips of the tomato ‘lids’ you cut out earlier.

Place the dish back into the oven and bake until the tomatoes are very soft and the rice has a crispy parmesan topping.  The potatoes should be cooked and golden, not overly brown.  This takes approximately 40-45 minutes.

Serve on their own, as a side-dish, or as a starter.  These are also delicious once they’ve cooled down a little to luke-warm.

Enjoy!

Gloriously simple, gloriously good!

 

 

 

 

Bruschetta

Bruschetta: Traditional Italian Garlic Bread

Very tasty and so simple to make!

Bruschetta is one of those foods that instantly puts me in a good mood and transports me back to so many summers spent in Italy over the course of my life!

Basic Bruschetta is simply barbecued bread slices rubbed with whole cloves of garlic and served with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt It couldn’t be simpler.

Bruschetta | Garlic Bread | Italian Garlic Bread

Bruschetta al pomodoro (Tomato Bruschetta)

The picture above shows a very common variation: Tomato Bruschetta.

Ingredients

  • Slices of fairly firm/rustic bread (typically you’d use ‘Pane Casareccio’ but a good Ciabatta or other firm bread will work)
  • Whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
  • Fresh basil, roughly chopped

Method

Start off by making the tomato topping for the Bruschette (Italian lesson: Bruschette = plural of Bruschetta):

Chop the tomatoes into small pieces and place into a bowl, along with a generous amount of roughly chopped basil leaves. Add a very generous amount of extra virgin olive oil (you will need plenty of juices to soak into the bread) and season with salt, to taste.  Leave to stand until needed (try to make this at least 15 mins before you toast/barbecue your bread slices).

Slice the bread into thick (about 2cm thick) slices and toast on a barbecue or under a grill (barbecued tastes nicer!).

Once the bread slices are toasted, rub a raw peeled garlic clove over each slice (how much you rub on depends on how strong you want the garlic flavour to be!) and immediately top with a generous amount of the previously seasoned tomatoes, ensuring each slice of bread gets plenty of tomato/olive oil ‘juice’.

Serve immediately before the bread goes too soggy!

I guarantee this will put a smile on your face, but beware…don’t have this the day before an important business meeting or a date as the raw garlic does tend to linger on the breath for a while! 😉

Bruschetta | Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!