This past Friday my dad came down for a visit from Connecticut. It was his first time checking out the apartment since Stu has moved in and I was very excited to have him get to see the changes we’ve made, especially in the kitchen. Stu and I invited him to spend the evening with us and to enjoy a dinner that we would prepare. Every time my dad comes to visit Philly, he always takes us out to a great restaurant followed by a few rounds at a bar, and then a nice brunch the next morning. This time we decided it was our turn to treat.

It took a little bit of brainstorming to come up with what to cook. My Dad is Italian and will never turn down a good pasta meal, but I didn’t want to stick with something safe. I also didn’t want to try something that I’ve never attempted before, or that I’ve tried multiple times and failed at. For instance, pad thai. Instead I opted for something that I’ve only done a few times, but have done well. And something that I knew would be easy to find in my neighborhood- Tuna!

I found a recipe that I had used once before from All Recipes, and paired it with a side dish from Eating Well In Season. And I whipped up my own salad, inspired by some salads I’ve had when dining out. Here is what I put together.

Grilled Tuna Steaks with Grape and Caper Salsa
from allrecipes.com

2 cups red seedless grapes, halved
1/3 cup capers, drained and rinsed
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
4 (8 ounce) tuna steaks
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil grate.

Stir together grapes, capers, shallot, parsley, and olive oil in a bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside. Place tuna steaks onto a plate, and brush with lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook tuna steaks on preheated grill until cooked to desired degree of doneness, 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Serve with the grape and caper salsa.

Barley and Wild Rice Pilaf with Pomegranate Seeds
from Eating Well In Season

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup wild rice, rinsed
1/2 cup pearl barley
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 cup pomegranate seeds
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leave parsley

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softend. Add wild rice and barley; stir for a few seconds. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the wild rice and barley are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 45 to 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until light golde and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl to cool.

Add pomegranate seeds, lemon zest, and the toasted pine nuts to the pilaf fluff with a fork. Serve hot.

Tuna Steaks with Grape Caper Salsa

The dinner came out great, with only a few hitches. The tuna was perfectly cooked, but cooled off a little too quickly, while I was putting the finishing touches on my rice. This is because it was only on the stove top for about 3-5 minutes total, both sides. Instead of grilling I used a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. It went just as well as if I had been grilling.

The rice was great, with a few minor substitutes. Pomegranate season is over, and I could not find a single fruit in any of the groceries or markets in my neighborhood, including Reading Terminal and Italian Market. So instead I substituted some dried cranberries, which worked really well. I also couldn’t find plain wild rice in the grocery store, and didn’t get to look in the markets, so I bought a box of Long Grain and Wild Rice and just used that. I poured in the whole box, as opposed to just half a cup. It also worked really well, and probably suited my dad better than if it were just the wild rice.

I threw together a small salad with some mixed greens and herbs, dried cranberries, pine nuts, walnuts, and some great Gorgonzola cheese. All of the flavors in the three meals complimented one another perfectly. It was great and I totally impressed my dad!

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