I think I’ve developed winter allergies. I sneeze all day, my head is foggy and I’m constantly stuffed up. It’s super frustrating. It feels like I am constantly on the verge of a cold that I never actually get.
When I feel this way, my senses of smell and taste are fairly compromised. Everything tastes a bit bland. So I find myself turning to bolder, richer flavors; aromatic spices, sharp cheeses, dark chocolates, sour citrus fruits. I indulge more in spicy foods (which I normally shy away from a bit, I’m a total hot-spicy wimp), because they tend to clear my sinuses right out. So, on a particularly stuffed-up day, I decided to take a trip to Morocco.
This dish has the most wonderful, aromatic spices. It’s not hot (though it could easily be adjusted to your heat preference), just incredibly rich and smoky and flavorful. The albacore tuna, which has a subtle, buttery taste of its own, holds up well to the spices in the rub. I topped it with a very simple white wine butter sauce, just for a little bit of moisture. It was so sweet and simple, it paired beautifully with the complex spices.
The fish is quickly seared and then baked. We sear it in order to get a nice crust before baking all the way through. Fish takes a short time to cook, so it’s always a great option for these busy, holiday nights.
For the side, I went for a riff on Giada’s fried couscous recipe. I added kalamata olives, artichoke hearts and Meyer lemon zest to give it a bit of the Middle East/Mediterranean flavor. I used whole wheat couscous, and frying it in olive oil gives it a terrific, nutty flavor and a wonderful crunch. Super easy and so delicious.
This dinner completely hit the spot on a particularly cold and congested day. The warm spices in the fish blasted through my sinuses and the rich, briny flavors in the couscous revived my allergy-riddled palette. Great and simple dinner for those busy nights ahead of us this week. What’s your favorite cold/allergy go-to food? THG
Moroccan Spiced Tuna
4 albacore tuna steaks
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground paprika
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
Zest of 2 Meyer lemons
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup dry sherry
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Rinse tuna steaks in cold water and pat dry. In a medium bowl, combine cumin, ginger, coriander, chili powder, paprika, cinnamon, turmeric, salt, white pepper, nutmeg, allspice and cayenne pepper until fully mixed. Add Meyer lemon zest and mix to combine. Add tuna steaks to spice mixture one at a time to coat both sides of the steak.
Bring wine and sherry to a boil in a small saucepan. When at a rolling boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced by half, about 15-20 minutes. Once reduced, add butter 1 tablespoon at a time and whisk until emulsified.
Heat olive oil in a large, oven-safe skillet. When oil is heated and beginning to smoke, add tuna steaks. Sear steaks, about 1 minute per side. When done searing, put skillet into oven and bake fish until cooked through and opaque, about 10-12 minutes. Serve warm with wine sauce for dipping.
Fried Couscous with Kalamata Olives and Artichoke Hearts (adapted from Giada de Laurentiis’ recipe here)
3 cups cooked whole-wheat couscous, cooked to directions on package
3/4 cup olive oil, divided
5 oz. kalamata olives, diced
1 8 oz. can artichoke hearts, chopped
Zest of 2 Meyer lemons
1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cooked couscous. Fry until golden-brown and aromatic, about 3-4 minutes. Turn couscous and fry another 3-4 minutes until crunchy. In a large bowl, add fried couscous, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts and lemon zest. Whisk together lemon juice and remaining 1/2 cup olive oil and pour over couscous mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Toss well to combine.