True Italian tuna conserva is a far cry from Chicken of the Sea. Fresh fish is poached in a bath of water or olive oil, and seasoned with a variety of aromatics such as fennel, garlic, lemon, and crushed black peppercorns. Once prepared, it is stored in tightly packed jars of olive oil.
Today's Cook the Book recipe, excerpted from A16 Food + Wine, is for Tuna Conserva with Potatoes, Radicchio, Green Olives, and Almonds. If you are so inclined, you can make your own tuna conserva (authors Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren provide a recipe at the beginning of the antipasti chapter) but high-quality olive oil packed tuna will work, too.
This hearty dish combines the tuna with crisp, bitter radicchio (just now coming into season); briny green olives; and creamy potatoes. It would make a perfectly delectable lunch. Let loose a little and have a glass of Fiano di Avellino, a full-bodied white wine from Campania with notes of honey, pears, and orange blossoms.
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Cook the Book: Tuna Conserva with Potatoes, Radicchio, Green Olives, and Almonds
- 6 round red or white boiling potatoes (about 2 pounds total)
- Kosher salt
- 1 head radicchio, cored, leaves separated, and torn into large bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup green olives, pitted and sliced
- 1 1/2 cups high-quality olive oil-packed tuna, drained
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/3 cup whole natural almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
Place the potatoes in a 3- or 4-quart pot, cover with cold water by about 2 inches, and add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, adjust the heat to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork but have not started to split. Drain the potatoes and let cool to room temperature. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch wedges.
In a large bowl, combine the radicchio, olives, tuna and potatoes. Drizzle the olive oil along the sides of the bowl, followed by the lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt. With your hands, gently mix the salad, ensuring that the olive oil and lemon juice and evenly distributed. Taste a piece of radicchio to check the seasoning, adding more olive oil, salt, or lemon juice to suit your taste.
Arrange the salad on a platter. Sprinkle with the almonds to finish. Serve immediately.