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Summer Recipes: Basil-Grilled Tuna Steaks with Arugula Salad

Photo by Artizone.

KCET chef Steven Raichlen, griller extraordinaire, recommends this grilled tuna recipe for a relatively quick dinner -- the marinating takes longer than the cooking itself.

Summer means the end of arugula season in sunny SoCal, so feel free to swap in a different green for the side salad. In fact, if you're a huge fan of basil, you could just use that herb on the fish and as your green. Have fun with it!

Tuna Steaks
Serves 4
4 tuna steaks (3/4 inch to 1 inch thick; 6 to 8 ounces each)
1 bunch fresh basil, washed and stemmed
4 cloves garlic, cut in half
3 strips lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon (3 to 4 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Arugula and Yellow Tomato Salad (recipe follows)

You'll also need:

1 cup wood chips (preferably oak; optional)

Trim any skin or dark or bloody spots off the tuna,. Rinse the tuna under cold running water and blot dry with paper towels. Arrange the steaks in a nonreactive baking dish.

Combine the basil, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Pour this mixture over the tuna and let marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 30 minutes to 2 hours, turning the tuna steaks several times.

Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. If using a gas grill, place the wood chips, if desired, in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and preheat until you see smoke. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. If using a charcoal grill, toss the wood chips, if desired, on the coals. Drain the tuna steaks and arrange on the grill. Grill until cooked to taste, 2 to 3 minutes per side for rare, 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium, rotating the steaks 45 degrees after 2 minutes to create grill marks. The steaks should be nicely browned on the outside. Test for doneness using the poke test: A rare steak will be soft, a medium-rare steak will be gently yielding, and a medium steak will be firm. Transfer the steaks to plates or a platter and let rest for 3 minutes, then serve with the salad.

1 large bunch arugula, washed, dried, and stemmed
1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons diced red onion
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

Put the arugula in a medium-size bowl and chill, covered, until serving time.

Just before serving, add the tomatoes, onion, lemon juice, oil, and salt and pepper to the bowl. Gently toss to mix. Correct the seasoning, adding lemon juice, salt, or pepper to taste.

Transfer the salad to plates or a platter, preferably chilled.