This is one of those food ideas that was staring me in the face conceptually but I couldn’t see it. For years we have been serving grilled tuna or baked rockfish and sturgeon with Moroccan charmoula. One day, when I was analyzing the sluggish response to our classic salade Niçoise, I thought, I want to find another way to entice people with grilled tuna salads. The tuna and white bean salad is always a winner, but Niçoise just doesn’t interest them. Maybe it is too familiar. Maybe anchovy scares them. What will they love? And the word charmoula entered my mind. So here is our now most popular tuna salad. (Incidentally this vinaigrette also works very well with sliced grilled or roasted chicken tossed with sliced peppers and onions.)
Rub the red potatoes with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat a medium pan of water to boiling. Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers and cut into 1½-inch-wide strips. Drop the peppers into the boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes. Drain and refresh in ice water. Dry the peppers well and then thread them onto skewers for easy turning on the grill. Coat lightly with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Prepare a fire for grilling or heat a heavy skillet over high heat for the tuna and preheat the broiler for the vegetables.
Trim the tuna and cut into 1-inch-thick slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and brush both sides with a little olive oil. Grill quickly over high heat, turning once, until medium-rare to medium.
Cut the eggplants lengthwise in half and score the cut sides with the point of a knife. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and brush with olive oil. Grill or broil, turning once, until tender.
Grill or broil the peppers just until lightly charred on the outside. Keep all of the ingredients at room temperature.
Cut the potatoes in half. Rub with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill or broil just before serving until marked. (You may also serve them without grilling.)
Break the tuna into large chunks and arrange the tuna and vegetables on 2 salad plates. Drizzle with charmoula vinaigrette, then sprinkle with chopped parsley and cilantro. Serve with lemon wedges.
To make Charmoula Vinaigrette, mix the lemon juice, garlic, paprika, cayenne, and cumin in a mixing bowl until smooth. Whisk in the parsley, cilantro, and olive oil. If necessary, add more oil so that the vinaigrette is not too thick. Taste and add more lemon juice or vinegar if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
© 1998 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.