Seared Tuna Tortilla Sandwich

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This sandwich by Chef Vincent Guerithault bypasses bland tuna in a can for fresh tuna steaks, which are layered with tortillas-the bread of the Southwest–and a delicious cilantro pesto.

Yield: 4 servings

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Ingredients

  • For the Cilantro Pesto:
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pinon nuts (substitute pine nuts)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • For the Tuna:
  • 8 ounces highest-grade ahi tuna (about 1 inch thick)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 corn tortillas, 6 inches in diameter, cut into halves and fried until light brown and crisp
  • 2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 20 leaves of arugula salt to taste

Directions

  1. For the Pesto: Put all the ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside.
  2. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the tuna with the pepper. When the pan is very hot, add the tuna and sear until the pepper is crusty and aromatic, about 1 minute per side. The tuna should still be rare in the center. Slice into very thin strips.
  3. Assembly: Place a tortilla half on each of 4 plates. Put a few slices of seared tuna on each tortilla.
  4. Arrange a slice of tomato, a slice of avocado, and a few arugula leaves on top of the tortilla; drizzle with a teaspoon of cilantro pesto.
  5. Repeat the layers and drizzle more cilantro pesto on top.
  6. Drizzle more cilantro pesto on the plates around the tortilla stacks. Serve immediately.

Tips/Techniques

For this sandwich, the tuna is briefly seared and just rare in the center, so buy the best-grade tuna you can find. If you prefer, substitute lobster, sea scallops, or chicken for the tuna.
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