Tuna with flageolet beans and radicchio

I’m still on a bean kick (just ordered 4 lbs worth from the nice folks over at Zursun) so I was excited when I found the following recipe in A Twist of the Wrist by Nancy Silverton: Seared Rare Tuna with Mashed Flageolet Beans and Radicchio. I couldn’t find any flageolet beans at Whole Foods so I used great northern beans instead. Wow. What a fantastic, simple, yet delicious recipe. The wilted radicchio and olive oil together with the presentation really step it up a notch so that you feel as though you are eating a meal prepared in a fancy restaurant. I’ll definitely be making this one again!

Beans:

1/4 cup plus 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, grated or minced (about 2 tsp), I used more
1 15 oz can flageolet beans, rinsed and drained (or cook up 1.5 cups dried beans)
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves (makes a huge difference to use fresh)
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp aged balsamic vinegar (don’t use your everyday version here as it will make the beans taste too acidic)

Tuna:

4 6 oz sushi-grade tuna steaks (1-1.5 inches thick)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil (or other neutral-flavored oil), plus extra for searing radicchio if necessary (definitely wasn’t for us)
8 large whole radicchio leaves
High-quality extra virgin olive oil for drizzling (very important to use a good one as it adds a lot of flavor to the final dish)
Aged balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
Lemon, for squeezing over fish (I forgot about this step and still enjoyed the dish)

To make the beans, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil with the garlic over medium-high heat and cook for about 1.5 minutes, until the garlic is soft and fragrant, stirring consistently so the garlic doesn’t brown. Turn up the heat to high, add the beans, rosemary, salt, and 1/4 cup water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the beans for 2 minutes until they are tender enough to smash with a fork. Transfer the beans and their cooking liquid to a large mortar or bowl (I mashed them in the original pot). Add the remaining 2 TB of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar, and mash with a pestle or masher until the beans are mashed but still slightly chunky. Add a few drops of warm water if necessary to obtain a creamy, spoonable consistency.

Rinse the tuna steaks under cool water, pat them dry with paper towels, and season both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat the canola oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat for 2-3 minutes, until the oil is almost smoking (you will begin to smell the oil at that point). Place the tuna steaks in the pan and sear for 1 minute for rare or 1.5 minutes for medium-rare on each side. Transfer to a plate to rest.

If the skillet is dry (ours wasn’t), add enough canola oil to coat it and heat it over high heat. Put 4 radicchio leaves in the skillet in a single layer and cook them for about 45 seconds on each side, until they are seared and slightly wilted (this took about 20 seconds for me). Remove the leaves from the skillet and place two leaves on each of the two plates. Cook remaining leaves in the same way, adding oil if necessary.

Spoon the mashed beans onto the radicchio, dividing them evenly and smashing them down slightly to create a bed for the tuna. Drizzle each serving of beans with the high-quality olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and pepper. Place the steaks first-seared side up on top of the beans, drizzle them with the juices from the plate they were resting on, and squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over them. Voila!

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