Certain meals just seem to taste better when eaten outdoors under the warm glow of a tangy-yellow sun. With the tripping breeze dressed in the scents of purple and white as a companion, lunch time out in the open air in the spring and summer time is a magical thing, a transporting activity; it's a way to get lost for an hour, or at least half of one, and allow your soul to take flight like that cheerful little bird you've been secretly watching through your work-space window. The air is freeing, the light is fantastic, and for at least a slight sliver of time, you're not on anyone's clock but your own; it feels good to own at least that in a day that belongs, in large part, to others. Your lunch break is yours, it is yours to do with as you please; to eat outdoors in the freshness of it all if you so choose, and to daydream a bit and let your mind wander far, far away from the reality of where you physically are. It is all for you to taste and to revel in; to enjoy the little delicious lunch treat that you've carefully packed up for yourself from home, and to close your eyes and release some of your cares for just a while, if that's what your heart so desires.
Bright and tangy flavors are best enjoyed under a lemony sun, and a simple and unique take on tuna salad becomes irresistible when senses are awakened by the way that sun feels on the skin. Tender, grilled albacore tuna together with cool, toasted Israeli couscous with capers, roasted peppers and sun-dried tomatoes together with a sharp, lemony and herby vinaigrette gives reason to look for a section on a quiet and sunny bench in the courtyard and settle in for while, or to pull out a chair and sit with your back to the radiating sun as it warms and massages a small bit of the morning's tension away; it makes an invigorating and refreshing impact on a simple lunch break, and coaxes you out from indoors to breath new life into your lungs and brighten your spirit just a bit.
Letting the fragrance of the breeze fill your nose, and allowing the lemony sun to fall cheerfully all around you in the middle of warm day as you partake in the bright flavors that make up your delicious lunch, is a liberating way to enjoy a break from your work in the afternoon. It reminds you that taking a bit of time to get lost in a little something natural and vibrant can be just what is needed to regroup and recharge; and it provides you with the knowing that these few moments of your day, at least, belong only to you.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Grilled Albacore Tuna & Toasted Israeli Couscous Salad with Roasted Peppers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Olives and Capers, with a Tangy, Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette
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(Makes 1 lunch portion)
4-5 ounce albacore tuna steak (frozen and thawed, or fresh), grilled and cut into small, bite-size pieces (*see note)
½ cup cooked and cooled toasted Israeli couscous (**see note)
¼ cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes (dry, not packed in oil)
¼ cup julienned fire-roasted red and yellow peppers (packed in water/oil)
1 tablespoon chopped kalamata olives
1 teaspoon capers
1 teaspoon finely minced red onion or shallot
Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette (recipe below)
(*To grill the tuna, just drizzle a touch of olive oil over it, and season with a pinch of salt, cracked black pepper, ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic and ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning, and grill the steak on a grill pan for about 2-3 minutes per side until medium and cooked gently through; cool for about 10 minutes, and then cut into small, bite-size pieces.)
(**To prepare the Israeli couscous, place a small pot over medium heat, and add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in; once hot, add in ⅓ cup dry Israeli couscous along with a pinch of salt, and toast it for several minutes in the oil until slightly golden, stirring the couscous periodically to prevent it from burning; add in ½ cup boiling water, cover, and allow the couscous to simmer gently for about 12 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the couscous is tender; allow to cool.)
-To make the salad, add all of the ingredients through the finely minced red onion or shallot into a medium size bowl, and lightly toss to incorporate together.
-To store and assemble, just add the salad portion into a snap-top Tupperware or glass container, keeping the Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette in a separate, small container, and store in the fridge until ready to eat; when ready to enjoy, just drizzle over as much of the Lemon-Herb vinaigrette as you'd like, and lightly combine/toss with your fork.
Tangy, Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette ingredients:
1 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
2 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
¼ teaspoon yellow mustard
¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon chopped, flat-leaf parsley
• Pinch of salt/cracked black pepper
-Combine all ingredients in a small dish with a small whisk or fork, or place into a small Tupperware container and shake very well until blended; store in fridge until ready to use with salad.
(*If the vinaigrette gets a bit thick, or separates a little while in fridge, just place the container under hot, running water for a moment until the vinaigrette is liquified and slightly loosened, then shake vigorously.)