About 10 years ago Amanda Hesser, former New York Times editor and writer, came up with Food52. It started as an online recipe exchange among passionate cooks, many professional, and subsequently developed a virtual store filled with products for cooking and entertaining. Classic, vintage, modern and out-of-the-way finds fill its digital pages, along with recipes, cooking tips and more. It is extremely reliable. Hesser’s family also lives in Wainscott so she came to Guild Hall a few seasons ago well-armed with a love for the region and its food, as well as with lots of practical ideas about food shopping and cooking. When I requested a recipe for this column I expected her to dig into her trove from books and online reporting. But no, she devised this one, which anticipates the fresh corn that will soon overflow the farm stands.
Poached Tuna with Warm Squash, Corn, and Potatoes
2 medium-size white potatoes, about 10 ounces, in ½-inch dice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, approximately
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Kernels from 4 ears fresh corn
2 medium-size yellow squash or zucchini, trimmed and cut lengthwise in 6 wedges
6 sprigs thyme
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small dried red chile or ½ teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 pound fresh yellowfin tuna, 1-inch thick
1 ½ tablespoons small capers, drained
1 lemon, in 4 wedges
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet large enough to eventually hold the squash and corn too. Bake 15 minutes. Move the potatoes to one-half the baking sheet. Toss the corn with another tablespoon of the oil and brush a little of the remaining oil on the squash. Dust these vegetables with salt. Spread the corn and squash alongside the potatoes on the baking sheet, return it to the oven and bake another 15 minutes. Turn off oven but do not remove vegetables.
Place the thyme, garlic, chile and shallot slices in a saucepan that will fit the tuna snugly. Season tuna with salt and place on top of the seasonings. Add enough of the remaining olive oil to the pan, lifting the tuna so it flows underneath, to reach about 1/4 inch up the sides of the fish. Place over low heat and let it cook about 10 minutes – the oil should never come to a boil. Baste the top of the tuna with the oil a few times. Turn the tuna and let cook for 5 minutes. Remove pan from the heat. The tuna should still have some pinkness in the center but not be raw. Let tuna cool down a few minutes.
Spoon the potatoes onto each for 4 dinner plates. Cut the squash wedges in ½-inch dice and add squash and corn on top of the potatoes. Break up the tuna into large chunks and divide among the plates. Spoon some of the cooking oil from the tuna, along with the shallots, on top and scatter with capers. Serve with lemon wedges.
Check out recipes from local artists featured in our 1978 cookbook Palette to Palate.
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