Tuna, Barbecued Capsicum & Basil Stew

We’re facing a few sweltering days here in Melbourne, so I’m cooking things that don’t need the oven turned on.  At the same time, I want food that is somewhat hearty as we’ve been spending so much time at the pool, and we are coming home ravenous. This scrumptious one pot tuna dish needs only the barbecue and the stove top and it can be mostly made ahead of time.  The capsicum is roasted on the barbecue, peeled and pureed before adding to the stew. It creates a fantastic depth of flavour.

Serves 3-4

  • 1 piece of fresh tuna, tail end if possible, about 300 grams
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • dash of dry white wine
  • 1 x 400 g tin organic chopped tomatoes
  • 12 fresh picked basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes

First, barbecue the capsicum on a hot, covered barbecue, turning on all sides, until soft and the skin is blackening (but not too charred).  This should take about 20 minutes.  When cooked (it will be soft on all sides) remove with tongs and place in a plastic bag to cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Saute the onion in some extra virgin olive oil until soft, about five minutes, stirring a few times, then add the garlic, paprika and tomato paste, stirring around for a minute or two until the paste bubbles and browns a little. Add a dash of white wine, simmer for a few seconds, then add the tomatoes and chilli.  Simmer on low for about 15 minutes.

When the capsicum is cool enough to handle, remove from the bag and take the skin off.  Remove the stalk and seeds and any white or unripe parts of the inside. Puree with a hand held mixer, or in the food processor. Add to the sauce.

Now add the piece of tuna to the sauce (at this point you could transfer to a baking dish and finish it, covered, on the barbecue if it’s getting too hot inside). Cover, reduce to a low to medium heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes, depending on how you like your tuna cooked, and how thick the piece is.   Check at 10 minutes, then every five minutes after that, by inserting a knife deep into the piece of tuna, about halfway through it. I like it a little rare on the inside, so I cooked it for 15 minutes.

During the last five minutes of cooking, tear up the basil leaves and add to the pot. It’s perfect served with a green salad, and some garlicky crostini made on the barbecue – take some sourdough baguette slices, brush with olive oil on both sides, barbecue on each side until just crunchy, and rub a fresh garlic clove on one side when done.

Leftovers can be turned into a pasta sauce 🙂

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