Tuna with Garlic, Basil and Tomato

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

This Tuscan sauce marries the flavors of the Mediterranean: tomatoes, olives and olive oil, capers, garlic and basil. It pairs particularly well with fresh tuna, a fish traditionally linked with the Sicilian kitchen but today enjoyed throughout the country. 


  • 6 Tbs. olive oil 
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped 
  • 3 garlic cloves, 2 minced and 1 crushed 
  • 1 lb. fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or 1 can (15 oz.) plum tomatoes, drained and chopped 
  • 8 fresh basil leaves 
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish 
  • 4 tuna steaks, each about 1/2 lb.  
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 1 cup pitted brine-cured black olives 
  • 4 tsp. capers, rinsed 


In a fry pan over medium heat, warm 3 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté until golden, about 2 minutes more. Stir in the tomatoes, basil and parsley and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and pass through a food mill fitted with the medium disk held over a bowl. Set aside.

Lightly season the tuna steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. In a fry pan large enough to hold the fish in a single layer, warm the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Add the crushed garlic and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 2 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic clove. Add the tuna steaks to the pan, raise the heat to medium-high and cook, turning once, until lightly browned on both sides, about 2 minutes on each side. Pour the reserved sauce directly over the fish, reduce the heat to low, add the olives and capers and cook until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the tuna steaks and sauce to warmed plates and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian by Michele Scicolone (Oxmoor House, 2007).

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