Seared tuna fillet recipe

20 April 2017 by
First published: 22 June 2016

This seared tuna fillet recipe is the perfect al fresco dinner for summer. The tomato salad here takes inspiration from a classic Italian dish called panzanella. It’s a Tuscan salad with tomato and bread an it’s perfect with fresh tuna, but also good as a little side dish. 

Ingredients (serves 4)

½ loaf unsliced white bread

100ml extra-virgin olive oil

150g cherry tomatoes

30g basil, chopped

1tbsp small capers

½ red onion, very finely diced

2tbsp red wine vinegar

1tsp sea salt

3 red (bell) peppers

4 tuna fillets, about 200g

1tbsp vegetable oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the basil and rocket pesto:

2tbsp pine nuts

30g rocket (arugula)

30g basil

2tbsp parmesan, grated

1 garlic clove

6tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper 



First, make the panzanella. Preheat the oven to 120°C/250°F/gas mark ½. Stale bread is best for making croutons.

Cut the bread into roughly 1cm cubes and place on a baking tray.

Cook in the oven for about one hour, or until the bread is completely dry.

Remove from the oven and drizzle the croutons with a little extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt and leave to cool.

Halve the cherry tomatoes and put them in a large bowl with the croutons, basil, capers and red onion.

Pour in the red wine vinegar and olive oil, mix well, add the sea salt and set aside. The tomatoes need time to macerate and the croutons need to soak up a good deal of the liquid.

Preheat the grill to high. Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds and cook, skin-side up, under the hot grill for about 15 minutes until they char and soften.

Most of the skin will lift away from the peppers, so discard the bits that are easy to remove, but leaving a little gives a nice smoky edge to the flavour. Cut them into bite-sized pieces.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper and brush with a little vegetable oil.

Place them into the hot pan and sear each side for about 40 seconds to one minute. Don’t be tempted to add extra oil to the pan as they will be too difficult to handle and will overcook.

When cooked, remove and cut into 5mm slices, then arrange on plates with the panzanella and peppers.

To make the basil and rocket pesto:

Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan over a low heat for 5–10 minutes, turning the nuts frequently until they are golden-brown. Remove the pan from the heat.

Chop all the dry ingredients very finely, including the toasted pine nuts, then place in a bowl and mix together with the olive oil.

Grate in the parmesan and season to taste.


Recipes and images courtesy of Savage Salads: Fierce Flavours, Filling Power-Ups by Davide Del Gatto & Kristina Gustafson. (£16.99)

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