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Ahi Tuna and Cucumber Sandwiches with Tapenade

Fish, olives and olive oil offer a bonanza of heart-healthy fats. Whole grains and greens add plenty of fiber. Ahi, the Hawaiian name for yellowfin tuna, tastes best when cooked rare and then thinly sliced. If you prefer ahi cooked through, increase the time by seconds, not minutes, as it cooks quickly. If you overcook it, the delicate texture will be lost.

Ingredients:

For the ahi tuna:

  • 1/2 tsp. canola oil 
  • 1 ahi tuna steak, about 3/4 lb. and 3/4 inch thick  
  • 3 tsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce 
  •   

For the tapenade:

  • 1/3 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives 
  • 2 Tbs. thinly sliced green onions, white and light green portions
  • 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped 
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 
  •   

For the salad:

  • 1 Tbs. rice vinegar  
  • 1 Tbs. honey 
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 5 oz. mixed baby salad greens such as mizuna, mustard, arugula, beet greens and spinach (about 4 cups)
  •   
  • 8 slices of multigrain yeast bread (see related recipe at left) or other coarse whole-grain bread
  • 1 cup thinly sliced English cucumber 

Directions:

To cook the tuna, brush a large, heavy fry pan with the canola oil. Place over high heat until hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle and then immediately evaporate. Add the tuna and cook for exactly 1 minute. Turn the tuna and cook for 1 minute more. Sprinkle 1 1/2 tsp. of the soy sauce over the tuna, turn the tuna and cook for 1 minute more. The fish will be well browned on the exterior and rare inside. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce over the tuna and transfer the tuna to a cutting board. Let stand while you prepare the remaining ingredients for the sandwiches.

To make the tapenade, in a food processor, combine the olives, green onions, garlic and a grind of pepper and process until finely chopped. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil through the feed tube. Continue to process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the tapenade is creamy. Transfer to a small bowl.

To make the salad, in a large bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, honey and olive oil. Add the greens and toss to coat evenly.

Using a sharp knife with a thin blade, cut the tuna crosswise into slices 1/8 inch thick.

To assemble the sandwiches, arrange the bread slices on a platter. Spread with a thin layer of tapenade, using about 2 tsp. for each slice. Place an equal amount of the salad on each slice. Top half of them with a layer of overlapping cucumber slices. Top the remaining sandwiches with a layer of overlapping tuna slices. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).