Did you know that Puttanesca sauce originated in Naples Italy? The name derives from the Italian word puttana which translates roughly to “lady of the night,” or “in the style of the whore.” Puttana in turn arises from the Latin word putida which means stinking. It’s a wonder how this tasty dish became associated with such sordid content, but I’ll leave you to research that aspect… There is a lot of disagreement about the origins, and the authorities on Italian food seem to be wary of making a definitive statement about it.
OK, so let’s get to the delicious recipe. Puttanesca is made from tomatoes, black olives, capers, anchovies, onions, garlic, and herbs, usually oregano and parsley but sometimes also basil; we used cilantro for a change of pace. This particular version leaves out the anchovies, but you could easily add some in if desired.
It is an easy sauce, briefly cooked, and is very fragrant and spicy. We paired it here with a Lemon-Garlic Rice, but fell free to use a simple steamed rice.
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.
Two meals from one—always a win-win in my book!
Grilled Tuna with Watercress-Parsley Salad and Charmoula Vinaigrette