A whole meaty tuna loin can be roasted the same way as a hunk of beef. If your loins are small--3/4 lb. or less each--you can tie them together to create a plumper-looking roast: With the widest sides together, tie at 2-in. intervals with kitchen twine. Take the tuna out of the oven when it's still very rare--albacore keeps on cooking after it's pulled off the heat, and if it's overcooked, it's dry.
1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 whole albacore tuna loin (about 1 lb.)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound slender Asian purple eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-in. chunks
2 medium fennel bulbs, stalks trimmed, fronds saved for garnish, and bulbs very thinly sliced
1 crookneck squash, cut into 1 1/2-in. chunks
1/2 medium red onion, cut into 1 1/2-in. chunks
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, cut into 1-in. chunks
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 400°.
Make rub: Toast fennel seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Crack peppercorns in a mortar and pestle. Add fennel seeds and salt and crush together until coarsely ground. Stir in orange zest and oil. Cover tuna all over with rub, then chill.
Meanwhile, make ratatouille: Heat 1/4 cup oil in large roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer eggplant to a medium bowl. Return pan to medium-high heat and add 1 tbsp. oil. Add sliced fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned, 8 to 10 minutes; transfer fennel to bowl of eggplant. Return pan to medium-high heat and add 1 tbsp. oil. Add squash and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, cook 1 minute, and return eggplant and fennel to pan. Add wine and parsley and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Push vegetables apart a little to make space for tuna.
Heat remaining 2 tbsp. oil in a medium nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Sear tuna until browned, 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Nestle tuna into vegetables and roast 6 to 8 minutes, or until opaque on the outside but still pink in most of center. Let tuna rest 10 minutes, uncovered (it will cook all the way through). Stir fennel fronds into vegetables.
Carve tuna into 1-in.-wide slices and serve with vegetables and a drizzle of pan juices.
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I bought a bag of frozen tuna steaks, and wanted a way to cook them through without drying them out. We really liked this dish. I make ratatouille all the time, and this one was very good. I used a can of diced tomatoes instead of fresh. I had thawed and rinsed the tuna steaks, but they are so full of water. I read a tip somewhere else to dry them with paper towel (top and bottom) and it took me 3 sets of towels before they were pretty dry. However, it was worth the nuisance; they tasted better than any of my previous attempts with tuna. This rub is very good; the fennel and orange zest are a great combination.
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