GRILLED TUNA STEAKS WITH ASPARAGUS AND TOMATO-BALSAMIC SAUCE

I’m not a fish fan, but if I’m going to eat it, tuna is one type of fish that sits well with me–especially paired with asparagus and a tomato-balsamic sauce that’s good all on its own (i.e. by the spoonful). Best of all, despite how gorgeous it presents, it doesn’t take much to pull it all together. Though I used a grill pan, you can certainly pop the asparagus and tuna on an outdoor grill if you want to keep your kitchen cool. Delish!

Grilled Tuna Steaks with Asparagus and Tomato-Balsamic Sauce

3 tbsp olive oil, divided

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tsp basil paste (in produce aisle and great for when you don’t have fresh basil; of course, you can always use fresh minced basil instead of paste)

2 tsp Thai Chili Sauce (I used Kikkoman brand)

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 cup finely chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp butter

16-20 spears asparagus, tough ends removed (gently bend and the tough ends will snap right off—toss ’em)

4 tuna steaks, about 3/4″ thick

1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees (for warming)

2) To small bowl, add: 2 tbsp olive oil (reserving 1 tbsp), lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, basil paste, Thai Chili Sauce, and sea salt; mix well; stir in tomatoes and set aside

3) To large skillet (I used a grill pan) over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp reserved olive oil and butter; when butter melts, add asparagus and cook 5 minutes, turning often; remove from heat, place on oven-safe plate, and put in oven to keep warm

4) In same skillet (you may have to add a bit more oil and butter) over medium-high heat, cook tuna steaks 3-4 minutes each side until just done (mine was slightly pink in the very center); remove from heat

5) Divide asparagus spears between 4 plates and top with tuna steaks; give tomato-balsamic sauce a stir and pour over tuna steaks; serve immediately (perhaps with a side of cheesy ciabatta bread); enjoy!

Servings: 4

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SMOKED CHICKEN-HAM-ZUCCHINI FOCACCIA SANDWICH

Maybe I should have gone with basic focaccia since too much fancy can be offputting to my guys–and the grated zucchini that was something of a highly textured lettuce was different enough as it was–but there were no complaints about the rosemary-sea salt focaccia. Of course, the smoked chicken, ham, provolone, and basil paste pulled it all together, making for a very tasty sandwich.

Smoked Chicken Ham Zucchini Focaccia Sandwich2

1 focaccia loaf (I used Rosemary-Sea Salt abou 5″x8″), sliced in half

3 tbsp basil paste

1 small zucchini, grated

1-1/2 cups cherub tomatoes

6 slices provolone (smoked or unsmoked depending on how smoky you like your sandwich)

2 cups shredded smoked chicken (or non-smoked)

4 slices cooked ham (on the thick side)

1) Move oven rack to lower third of oven; preheat broiler

2) Spread basil paste over bottom half of focaccia loaf, scatter grated zucchini over basil paste, followed by tomatoes and layered provolone cheese slices

3) Layer top half with ham and chicken

4) Place sandwich halves side by side on baking sheet and put under broiler 4-5 minutes until meat heats through and cheese melts (keep an eye on it); remove from oven, place top half of sandwich on bottom, cut into four generous pieces, and serve

Servings: 4

APRICOT-BALSAMIC PORK LOIN CHOPS

The basil crust on this pork loin chop is a lovely addition, but it’s the apricot-balsamic sauce that wins the day (ask Junior Too–he sopped up every last drop, which he’s not inclined to do with most sauces). In other words, if you don’t have the time or ingredients, make it easy on yourself by foregoing the basil crust and simply drenching your chops in apricot-balsamic sauce. Delish!

Apricot-Balsamic Pork Loin Chops

1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

4 tbsp olive oil, divided

2 tbsp lemon juice

sea salt

ground black pepper

1/4 cup pine nuts

4 boneless pork loin chops (about 1-1/2 lb, 1-1/4″ thick)

1/2 cup apricot jam

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1) Make your basil sauce: add basil, parsley, 3 tbsp olive oil (reserving 1 tbsp), lemon juice, and a pinch each of salt and pepper to a blender; puree; add pine nuts to basil sauce and blend a few seconds to keep some of the pine nuts intact

2) To grill pan, add reserved 1 tbsp olive oil; heat to medium-high

3) Meanwhile, spread half the basil sauce on one side of each pork loin chop

4) Place pork loin chops, basil side down in grill pan and reduce heat to medium; spread remaining basil sauce on tops of pork loins; cook approximately 6 minutes each side until meat is no longer pink in center

5) While pork is grilling, heat apricot jam and balsamic vinegar in small saucepan over medium heat and stir often; when sauce is well combined, lower heat to simmer

6) Plate pork loin and pour apricot-balsamic sauce over top; serve immediately

Servings: 4