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Seared Tuna with Mâche, Avocado and Grapefruit Salad

Tossed with buttery avocado and juicy ruby grapefruit, mâche—also known as lamb’s lettuce—makes a sweet bed for lean and meaty seared tuna. Long foraged and cultivated in France, mâche is growing in popularity in the United States, thanks to the efforts of California producers and chefs. It may look dainty, but it surpasses spinach in iron content.

Ingredients:

  • 2 regular or ruby grapefruit 
  • 4 sushi-grade ahi tuna steaks, each 5 oz. and 1 inch thick 
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil 
  • 2 ripe avocados 
  • 2 Tbs. rice vinegar 
  • 1 serrano chili, seeded and minced 
  • 4 cups (about 4 oz.) mâche or butter lettuce leaves, torn into bite-size pieces 

Directions:

Using a sharp paring knife, cut the peel and pith from the grapefruit, following the curve of the fruit. Holding the grapefruit over a bowl to catch the juices, use the knife to cut individual segments of fruit from the membrane. Put the grapefruit segments in a bowl along with the juices.

Sprinkle the tuna lightly with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the tuna and cook until browned underneath, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the tuna over and brown on the other side, 4 to 5 minutes more. The exterior of each piece should be browned, but the tuna should remain raw in the center. Transfer to a plate and let stand for 10 minutes.

Halve and pit the avocados. Scoop the flesh from the peel and cut into 1-inch chunks. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, chili and the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the grapefruit segments and their juices, the mâche and avocado and stir gently.

Cut each piece of tuna crosswise into thin slices. Mound the salad on individual plates and arrange the tuna in overlapping slices on top. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Eat Well, by Charity Ferreira (Oxmoor House, 2008).