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Monday, March 2, 2015

Tuna a la Veracruzana

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Mazola® Corn Oil. Opinions are my own.
Tuna a la Veracruzana
You know how people start making all sorts of resolutions when the new year rolls in—a good lot of them having to do with being healthier, be it through diet, mind, or exercise? I'm not usually one of those people. I have mentioned it before, but for reference, I'm going to say it again. I live in the Midwest, and the beginning of January is freezing; we have snow on the ground. Boots, mittens, scarves, hats, and snow pants are parked in front of every available heat vent. Sleds, skis, and ice skates are the main (if not only) forms of outdoor recreation going on at that time.

Let's just say that a frozen nose and frozen toes don't defrost with the help of a salad. They get back to normal with bowls of hearty stew, roasts that have become meltingly tender while you played, and steaming mugs of hot chocolate. Yes, as far as I'm concerned, January is time for comfort food, not diet food.

But by the time March rolls around, I'll admit to being ready to lighten up a bit. Yeah, it's still cold around here, but now I'm actively wishing it away. My bones are tired of shaking. I want to feel the sun on my skin again. Which makes me think about shedding the winter layers. Which makes me think about the extra "warmth" around my bones. Now is the time I want to start eating better for me foods.

For me, fish and seafood are the proteins I crave most in my diet when it's not winter, and as far as plants go—bring on the leafy greens! I also take more time to be conscious of the fats I'm putting into my food. My philosophy is everything in moderation, and I don't necessarily shun any certain types of fat. Variety is definitely the spice of life.
Tuna a la Veracruzana
One particular plant-derived oil that many people don't realize is good for them is corn oil. Not only does corn oil have a neutral flavor (so it won't mask the flavor of the food you're cooking or baking), it also has more cholesterol-blocking plant sterols than other cooking oils—four times more than even olive oil!  In fact, a recent research study found that corn oil helps lower cholesterol more than extra virgin olive oil (for more information about the study, go to

All this is to say that today, I'm happy to be sharing a better-for-you (me) recipe as we enter the month of March, aka my unspoken resolution month. It features beautiful tuna steaks that have been rubbed with a bit of corn oil and then grilled on a super hot grill pan. If you want to haul out the actual grill, you could grill the fish on it, as well (corn oil has a high smoke point, so it won't get unpleasant over high heat).

I'm serving the tuna in a pool of Salsa Veracruzana (in the Veracruz-style...Mexico), one of my favorite veggie-laden sauces; roasted tomatoes, peppers, and poblano chiles are accented with tang from lemon and vinegar, saltiness from olives and capers, and finished with fresh herbs. I love it on so many things!

Tuna a la Veracruzana
Grilled tuna nestled in a Veracruz-style tomato sauce featuring chiles, olives, capers, lemon, and herbs. A vibrant dish that is good for you, too!
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Tuna a la Veracruzana
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Keywords: grill simmer entree sauce dairy-free nut-free soy-free sugar-free tomatoes tuna bell peppers olives Mexican

Ingredients (serves 4)
    for the Salsa Veracruzana
    • 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted, diced tomatoes
    • 2 (medium) red bell peppers, roasted (then stemmed & seeded), divided
    • 1 (medium) poblano chile or 2 (large) jalapenos, roasted (then stemmed & seeded)
    • 2 tablespoons corn oil
    • 1 (small-medium) red onion, sliced thinly
    • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
    • 1/4 cup green olives, sliced
    • 2 tablespoons capers
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    for the Tuna:
    • 2 tablespoons corn oil
    • 4 (6 ounce each) tuna filets
    • sea salt
    • freshly ground black pepper
    to finish
    • lemon slices
    to make the Salsa Veracruzana:
    Pour the tomatoes in the jar of a blender, juice and all. Add 1/2 cup of water, and 1 of the roasted red bell peppers. Pulse until mostly smooth, with a few chunks remaining.

    In a large, deep-sided skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and garlic; sauté until they're limp and beginning to turn a bit golden in spots, 5-7 minutes. Add the reserved puree to the pan. Adjust the heat and allow it to simmer gently for 10 minutes.
    Tuna a la Veracruzana
    Thinly slice the remaining roasted red pepper and the poblano, and add them to the pan, along with the oregano, bay leaf, lemon juice, vinegar, olives, capers, and pepper. Continue to simmer them for about 5-7 minutes. The mixture should be thick, but if there is absolutely no liquid remaining, stir in a little water at a time, just until it's slightly loose.

    Turn off the heat, taste and adjust for seasoning (since there are some salty ingredients, taste before adding any); stir in the cilantro and the parsley. At this point, set the mixture aside and keep it warm while you cook the tuna.

    making the tuna:
    Rub the tuna with a very thin layer of oil (1/2 teaspoon per tuna steak), then sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.

    Once the pan is hot, add the tuna steaks, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until cooked about 1/3 of the way through and it has some nice "grill" marks. Flip and cook them for another 3 to 4 minutes. The tuna will have a thin layer of light pink in the center; adjust cooking times according to how you prefer it to be cooked.

    to serve:
    Spoon 1/4 of the warm sauce onto each plate, and top with a grilled tuna steak; garnish with a lemon wheel and some more fresh herbs, if desired.
    Tuna a la Veracruzana
    Visit for more information and for more recipe ideas that start with Mazola Corn Oil!

    More Veracruz-style dishes:
    Camarones a la Veracruzana from Muy Bueno Cookbook
    Lengua a la Veracruzana
    Red Snapper (Huachinango) a la Veracruzana from Mexico in My Kitchen
    Tilapia a la Veracruzana
    Veracruz Style Spaghetti from Nibbles & Feasts