tuna confit with tomato salsa and tapenade {ffwd}

Tuna Confit

Confit is an ancient French preparation for cooking and then preserving meat in its own fat. This is classically done with duck (a favorite at my house) and sometimes pork. This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie was something more modern, but in the same spirit: Tuna Confit. In the case of the tuna, which doesn’t really have any fat that would render during cooking, it is mixed with a variety of aromatic seasonings, then covered in olive oil. First, the tuna marinates in this oil bath for the day, then spends an hour in the oven at a very low temperature, before being sliced and served with a summery tomato salsa and some olive tapenade.

Over the weekend, I scoped out availability and price of tuna. Whole Foods had it, at $25/pound. I wasn’t planning to make the tuna until later in the week, so I thought I’d come back later in the week. I also decided that at that price, I’d make a half batch. On Tuesday, I went back to Whole Foods, but they were out of tuna, and didn’t expect more until Friday. Ugh. I stopped at another store with a decent fish counter, but they didn’t have any either. As a last try, I checked at Trader Joe’s. Though I don’t usually buy it, I remembered they carried frozen fish. Well, the stars aligned in my favor. Not only were there ahi tuna steaks in the freezer, but they were only $9/pound. The packages were about a pound, so a full batch it would be.

Tuna in Its Oil Bath

Tuna in Its Oil Bath

Whenever a recipe calls for preserved lemon, as the tuna confit does, I always make a batch of Mark Bittman’s quick preserved lemons, which takes only 3 hours, no more advanced planning than that required. In addition to preserved lemon, the tuna is flavored with fresh lemon (juice and zest), sun-dried tomatoes, scallions, garlic, celery, and fresh herbs. Besides smelling extremely fragrant, I loved how colorful the mixture was.

Confetti Tuna
The colorful theme continued with the tomato salsa that tops the tuna. Chopped cherry tomatoes, fresh from my garden, along with diced pepper (both fresh and pickled) and more preserved lemon. I’ve been trying to avoid using the word “confetti” because I overused it a few weeks back, however, it’s the perfect word, so I have to use it to describe how the salsa looked.

I served slices of the warm and rosy tuna, topped with the cooking mixture, the tomato salsa, and a dab of (green) olive tapenade with some leftover Swiss chard ravioli on the side. Delicious!

Even better was night #2 when I used the tuna as the star of a salad Niçoise. I tossed lettuce and cherry tomatoes with a light mustardy vinaigrette for the bed for the salad. Then, I topped this base with steamed potatoes chunks tossed with the same dressing, slices of cold tuna confit with leftover tomato salsa and tapenade spooned on top, and these unusual green beans tossed with a chorizo dressing (sort of like a meaty Romesco sauce). The final composition made a fabulous dinner.

Salad Nicoise


Some of you might groan, but I didn’t like it quite as much as Salmon in a Jar. Head-to-head, it would be a close contest. Used as an ingredient, there are so many possibilities for what to do with the tuna confit that the gears in my brain are turning. Howard wants to give this a whirl with one of us sous-vide devices. I suspect we’ll be making this one again.

If you want to try this yourself, check out the recipe (in two parts) at the Washington Post (part 1 and part 2). Of course, you can always find it in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. To see what the other Doristas thought about tuna confit, follow their links here.


Posted on 8 August 2014, in Fish, French Fridays with Dorie and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. We thought of Howard and his sous vide experiments while making this recipe! Thanks for the recipe for quick preserved lemons! This will, undoubtedly, come in handy & costs far less than commercial ones.

    Have a lovely weekend!

  2. Glad to know about the quick preserved lemons they are hard to find around here and pricy. I’m so envious that you had leftovers for a salad, my teenage son ate all the leftovers. No good lunches…My life until college.

  3. Excellent idea to use leftovers in a salade Nicoise! YUM! I enjoyed this one, too :)

  4. LOL – I skipped the salmon in a jar because I thought I’d hate it, so maybe it’s time to give it a go. I am glad that tuna is not just expensive here – the price was rather ouchy. Your tuna steaks were a bargain.

  5. Betsy, as they say in New York, you done good on the tuna. I almost choked at the price
    and good thing Jim was with me, cause I probably would have skipped the whole thing.
    As for delivering goodies to Tricia, I end up with so many odds and ends of packages
    I don’t know what to do with them. My preserved lemons were not too expensive, $5.49
    for the jar. Not too bad. But I would love to try it myself, which I think is half the fun of all of this. Your tuna looks great, and we truly enjoyed the recipe.

  6. I actually prefer this over salmon in a jar…. a wee bit more! I must agree with you that the marinate was gorgeous!

  7. We worked with frozen tuna too – and for the price (and convenience) I am glad it was an option!

    Since I absolutely, positively HATED the salmon in a jar; this was a huge winner in my book :-)

  8. Do you know, the salmon and potatoes in a jar is among my most repeated recipes. It is also the recipe which I have had to copy the most, because anytime I serve it to friends here, they always want a copy of the recipe. Go figure.

  9. GREAT idea with the niçoise salad! Jealous of how pink yours stayed in the centre…

  10. Total score at Trader Joe’s, which you deserved after running reconnaissance to look for it all week. The results look gorgeous and yummy – you nailed the rosy color. Fun quick lemon recipe- thanks for sharing. And the day 2 salad looks delish, so glad you included a photo.

  11. Thanks for the recipe for the preserved lemons. If it wasn’t for the home remodel, I would have made them. Turned out fine for us without them. I also scored my tuna from Trader Joe’s.

  12. I went with frozen tuna too. I couldn’t justify the cost of the fresh, and the frozen worked really well. I love the idea of using this as a base for nicoise!

  13. Betsy, your tuna confit looks delicious. Your pictures are good, also. This was not an easy menu to photograph. I actually made the tuna confit and had the Post half-written. However, midweek, I saw Liz’s picture of her tuna confit and was completely undone by my pictures. I just didn’t have the “pink” quality that you and Liz managed to get. It tasted good, however. So I bagged the FFWD tuna confit and posted my shrimp salad. I actually gave you credit for the preserved lemon in my original post. But, when I wrote my second one, I forgot. I cannot thank you enough for sending me that link. You made Salade Niçoise with your leftovers and I made fish tacos. I will be posting that this coming week with my roasted peppers. My tuna (1/2 order) was $17.99 a pound.

  14. I need to try that preserved lemon recipe – we had a difficult time finding good tuna, but now that people are coming back to the desert our stores are starting to stock more. We loved the marinade, but found the meat too chewy. Yours looks terrific!

  15. Thanks for the reminder about the Trader Joe’s fish. I need to buy that more often. Your salad nicoise using this tuna sounds excellent. Definitely a good reason to make it more often.

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