tuna, white bean, mushroom & garlic cazuela
Cooking in clay pots goes back to the ancients, though I’ve only just recently caught on. It’s a very healthful, uncomplicated, time-saving way to cook. (Much information is available on-line if you’d like to learn more. Check out tagines, cazuelas and Romartopfs.) Though this dish was cooked mainly on a stovetop in a Spanish terra cotta pot called a cazuela, it can easily be prepared in a dutch oven or a large skillet instead. (Cazuela here describes both the dish and the clay vessel it’s cooked in.) This very tasty, Spanish-influenced, high-fiber, relatively low-fat dish can be on your table in just over thirty minutes.
It calls for albacore tuna which is both more plentiful and less expensive than ahi, though ahi could be substituted if you’re looking to “elevate” the dish a little. The recipe also calls for sweet smoked paprika, an essential ingredient in Spanish cuisine. It’s quite distinguishable from regular paprika, though tastes nothing at all like a smoky, damp campfire (in case you were wondering.) And it’s the paprika and garlic that impart the most delicious warmth to this dish.
Tuna, White Bean, Mushroom & Garlic Cazuela
Serves 4 (though you can successfully halve the recipe to feed two)
- 6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 cup cremini mushrooms, quartered or cut in sixths for bite-size pieces
- 4 Italian plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into ½-inch slices
- 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika, plus more for sprinkling
- two 15-ounce cans of Great Northern or Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed – reserve several tablespoons of their liquid
- 1 pound albacore tuna, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Garnish: a handful each of cherry tomatoes, halved, and parsley, roughly chopped
In a cazuela (or large skillet or Dutch oven) heat the olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the garlic slices and fry until it lightly browns. (Too much and it will become bitter.) Remove the garlic to a separate small plate, keeping the oil, now garlic-infused, in the pan. Add the onions and sauté for 3 minutes, or until translucent. Add the mushrooms and continue sautéing until soft, about 5 more minutes.
Stir in the tomato slices, sea salt, pepper and smoked paprika, cooking for another 2 minutes. Add the beans and gently incorporate, careful not to smash them. (If the mixture seems too dry, add a bit of the reserved bean juice, a tablespoon or two.) You now have a choice: Either add the fried garlic back in at this point, or wait until you’ve added the tuna in the next step.
Create an even surface, and set the cubed tuna on top, pressing gently to nestle the pieces in. If you’ve opted to hold the garlic until now, place a piece or two atop each piece of tuna. Sprinkle with more smoked paprika and a few sprinkles of salt and place the pot in the oven. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. (Perhaps a little less, or more – just ’til the fish flakes when checked with a fork.) Garnish with a scattering of sliced cherry tomatoes and chopped Italian parsley and serve immediately. One additional benefit to clay pot cooking is that you now have a heat-retentive and attractive dish to bring to the table. And one less thing to wash.
This dish is adapted from one published by Stephanie Stiavetti, of NPR