Grilled Tuna with Watercress-Parsley Salad and Charmoula Vinaigrette

The secret for the best grilled tuna steaks? Extra-virgin olive oil my friend. To produce tuna steaks beautifully seared on the outside and moist and tender on the inside, Cook’s Illustrated discovered that marinating the fish in extra-virgin olive for at least an hour produced remarkably moist grilled fish. We took it a step further—in fact, 10 hours further—by marinating the fish for 11 hours.

Reminiscent of Mediterranean cuisine, it inspired me to include some salt-dried black olives which gave the dish an extra depth of flavor and a little salt bomb pop. Be aware, that once you place the tuna on the grill, it’s only a matter of minutes before the fish comes to temp at 120°, which is medium-rare, so make sure everything else is prepared in advance.

With just the two of us, we had ample tuna leftover, so the following day The Hubs made a fabulous tuna salad which included mayo, anchovy, roasted garlic paste, minced celery and shallot, dijon mustard, sherry vinegar, cured olives, fresh parsley, and salt and pepper. He just eyeballed the proportions and taste-tested until he was satisfied. If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, adjust the ingredients to suit your own preferences.

We made tuna salad from the leftover tuna steak meat and served it on a bed of bibb lettuce.

Two meals from one—always a win-win in my book!

Grilled Tuna with Watercress-Parsley Salad and Charmoula Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Grilled Tuna

  • 4 tuna steaks (about 3/4-inch thick and 8 ounces each)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For Vinaigrette

  • 2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch watercress, washed, dried well, and trimmed
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves, washed and dried well
  • 1/2 cup salt brined black olives, pitted and roughly chopped


  1. For Tuna: Place tuna and oil in gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic bag; seal bag and refrigerate until fish has marinated fully, at least 1 and up to 24 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat your grill until very hot.
  3. Remove tuna from bag; season both sides of each steak with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill over direct heat until well seared and grill marks appear, about 1 1/2 minutes.
  5. Flip steaks over and grill on second side until fish is cooked to medium (opaque throughout, yet translucent at very center when checked with point of paring knife), 1 to 1 1/2 minutes longer.
  6. For Vinaigrette: Whisk lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and cilantro in small bowl. Add oil in slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth; season with pepper to taste.
  7. Place watercress, parsley and olives in medium bowl; drizzle with half the vinaigrette and toss to coat.
  8. Divide dressed greens among four serving plates; place a grilled tuna steak next to or on each bed of greens, drizzle with a portion of remaining vinaigrette, and serve immediately.

Adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated

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