Saturday, October 17, 2015

20. Smoked Ahi Tacos with Romesco Sauce, Lightly Dressed Spinach, and Parsley Aioli


Well, I'm back with another taco recipe!  I skipped last weekend because it was my birthday.  My wonderful husband took me on a short weekend getaway (complete with a lovely spa package), so I did not do any cooking at all.  Also, this past week was tech week for Footloose, so weekday tacos were pretty much an impossibility!  It's OK, though.  I'm catching up.  I'm making one more recipe tomorrow, so I'm still in decent shape to finish my project!

I finally decided to introduce one of my favorite cooking helpers:  the stovetop smoker!  If you don't have one, don't worry - you can still make this!  You can just add a few drops of liquid smoke to the tuna marinade and cook it some other way.

I would highly recommend getting a stovetop smoker, though.  As far as I know, Cameron makes the most popular one.  We love ours!  We use it regularly - probably at least a couple of times a month.  It's awesome!  You can even cook vegetables in it.  You'd be amazed at how much flavor a smoked onion can add to your favorite soup recipe.  Seriously!

Here's a link to buy it from Amazon:

Read the reviews - it's well worth the price!  It's very easy to use, too.

We love ours and I just wanted to share it!  :)

Well . . . back to the recipe!

I'll be honest - at first, I wasn't feeling particularly inspired about this one!  I was tired after a very busy week, and I just decided to pick something and go with it.  We had some ahi tuna steaks in the freezer that I wanted to use, so the main ingredient seemed obvious!  What to do with them, though?

It would have been really easy to take the tuna in an Asian direction, but I decided against it.  For some reason, I happened to think about how amazing canned tuna from Spain is, so I chose to incorporate Spanish flavors in this taco recipe.  After that, things pretty much fell into place.  I am thrilled with this recipe!  My husband says it's absolutely the best taco he's ever had.  :)

Here it is:

Smoked Ahi Tacos with Romesco Sauce, Lightly Dressed Spinach, and Parsley Aioli

Serves 3 to 4 (about 12 small tacos) with extra sauce and aioli


For the tuna:

About 1 lb. ahi tuna steaks (I used two 1/2 lb. steaks)
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. hot smoked paprika
3 tbsp. olive oil

For the aioli:

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

For the Romesco sauce:

2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup whole raw almonds, coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 red bell pepper, roasted, seeded, peeled, and chopped
1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp. bread crumbs
1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp. hot smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the dressed spinach:

3 cups chopped spinach leaves
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

12 street taco-size corn tortillas


1. Marinate the tuna:  Combine the garlic, shallot, salt, pepper, paprika, and olive oil in a medium bowl.  Add the tuna and coat with the mixture.  Cover and refrigerate while you complete the next few steps.

2. Make the aioli:  Place all of the aioli ingredients in a pint-size glass liquid measuring cup.  Blend with a hand blender until smooth.  Transfer to a small bowl.  Alternately, you can use a regular blender or food processor.

3. Make the Romesco sauce:  Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the almonds and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.  Sprinkle with salt to taste and allow to cool.

4. Return the skillet to the heat.  There will still be almond sediment in the remaining oil, but that's OK as long as the heat is not too high.  Add the garlic and cook for about a minute.  Add all of the remaining Romesco sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and cook for a couple of minutes until the ingredients are heated through and thoroughly combined.

5. Transfer to a small bowl or liquid measuring cup and add half of the almonds (Set the other half aside for garnish.) and blend with a hand blender until fairly smooth.  Alternately, you can use a regular blender or food processor.  The sauce will be thick and a little grainy from the almonds.  You can add a little bit of water if it seems too thick.  Cover and set aside.

6. Cook the tuna:  Remove the tuna from the marinade and cook in a stovetop smoker over medium low heat for about 10 minutes (start counting when the smoker starts smoking) or until the tuna has reached desired doneness.  We like ours medium-rare, but you can cook it through if you wish.  If you do this, I would keep an eye on it and cook it until just barely done!  Overcooked tuna is no good!  Alternately, you can grill the tuna or sear it in a hot pan.  If you do this, your cooking time may vary.

7.  While the tuna is cooking, prepare the tortillas:  Heat the tortillas in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, one by one, until browned but still soft, about 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side.

As they are done, stack them on a sheet of foil.  When you have as many as you want, wrap in the foil and set aside.  Depending on your tuna cooking method (and how many tortillas you plan to heat), you may want to do this BEFORE you cook the tuna. You can keep them warm in a 200 degree oven if you wish.  For me, it worked out just fine to cook both simultaneously.

8. Remove the tuna from the smoker and place on a plate.

Cut the tuna into strips.

9. Prepare the spinach:  Place the chopped spinach in a medium bowl.  Toss with the oil and vinegar and add salt and pepper to taste.  After this step, you may want to reheat the Romesco sauce and/or tuna very gently in the microwave.

10.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a tortilla on a plate.  Top with a few strips of tuna.  Spoon on some of the Romesco sauce.  Add a small amount of spinach.  Drizzle some of the aioli over all and garnish with the reserved almonds.  Enjoy!

As I said before, Steve thought these were the best tacos ever!  He said he's not sure I can ever top these.  Well . . . that's great, but I have 80 recipes left to go, so I really hope he's wrong!  Ha ha.

After one dinner (for two), there was some extra Romesco sauce and aioli.  It wasn't a problem for us at all!  So . . . while we're at it, I have a confession.  Sometimes, we don't actually eat the leftovers as tacos!  Earlier today, we had some AWESOME tuna sandwiches made with the leftover tuna and some of the aioli on toasted wheat bread.  Then, I used the rest of the Romesco sauce and combined it with some other things to make a tasty pasta dish for dinner.  I'm getting pretty good at reinventing taco ingredients.  It's out of necessity, truly!  :)

If you actually served three or four people instead of two, you probably wouldn't have very much sauce or aioli leftover.  Seriously, though - you could put the aioli on anything!  Right now, I'm having a vision of a delicious artichoke with the parsley aioli as a dipping sauce!  :)  I could also see having the leftover Romesco with crostini!  Sometimes, I would rather not have leftover ingredients.  However, I think the leftovers, in this case, would be a bonus!

Well, I think I'll leave it there.  I have to think of something else to make for tomorrow.  Oh, the possiblities . . .

Feel free to comment on this recipe!  Did you try it?  What did you think?  Do you have any more ideas for me?  I'm open-minded!  :)

Thanks for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear what you think! Please comment! :)