Composed salads that include grilled proteins and vegetables are such a welcome addition to the summertime table, and certain meats, seafoods and vegetables lend themselves particularly well to these types of salads. And don’t forget the lettuce.
Grilled lettuce—really? Absolutely. Certain heartier lettuces hold their shape and are marvelous when exposed to the heat of a grill. Raddichio, for instance, loses some of its bitter edge sweetening into a unique, nutty flavor, as does endive or escarole. Any of those three lettuces would be great substitutes for the more delicate greens I used (not grilled) in the following recipe.
If you plan to make the substitute, simply halve or quarter the heads, ensuring the leaves remain connected at the stem end, brush with olive oil, and sear next to the tuna or alongside the potatoes when grilling. The lettuces will cook quickly and you’ll know they’re ready when softened and lightly charred. Then, chop and toss with the vinaigrette, right before making the platter.
Grilled potatoes are a component of the recipe below; tubers, in general, are great items for the grill as they don’t need constant monitoring and they’re the perfect side dish for most any protein you can think of to grill. A couple of weeks ago, Downtown Home & Garden halved sweet potatoes and grilled them alongside pork at a Big Green Egg demonstration. What could be simpler and more delicious?
There are many ways to for the grillmeister to approach the potatoes in the following recipe. I took the easy route and par-boiled them first, otherwise they’d take much longer to soften. With quick cooking tuna, extra grill time would be inefficient. Then, I cut my par-boiled potatoes in half (but you could also cut them into wedges or slices) before grilling. To add an extra flavor boost, place in a foil package over a bit of butter and herbs, before grilling.
Like an exquisite, top-drawer steak, I insist ahi (the Hawaiian word for tuna) be served seared on the outside and lukewarm—close to raw—through the center. If you’d prefer your tuna cooked medium-well, save your money and purchase a lesser grade of tuna. In fact, grilled salmon could substitute for the tuna if desired. You will want your tuna steaks to be a solid inch thick; no thinner. Get your grill as smoking hot as possible, then—after seasoning—grill the tuna about 2 minutes per side, keeping the grill covered.
This recipe spells time and money, but for me it’s worth it. It takes a good hour to assemble the ingredients before composing the platter, and if using sushi-grade tuna, be prepared to open your wallet extra wide. Some folks enjoy shopping for shoes, I save my nickels for ahi.
(The following recipe was inspired by a recipe in Fine Cooking Magazine. I made several small changes, the most notable using my own preferred vinaigrette.)