Grilled Tuna Rollatini under Tomato-Lemon Marinade

from Lidia Matticchio Bastianich

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When traveling through Sicily, you will often encounter tuna or swordfish Rollatini – or involtini, as the Sicilians call them. It is a traditional dish. What makes the dish particularly delicious and interesting is that the Rollatini are rolled in seasoned breadcrumbs before cooking. The longer the Rollatini sit, the more flavorful they become.

Ingredients — Garlic-Infused Oil and Bread Crumbs
Garlic-Infused Oil
2 fat garlic cloves, sliced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Flavored Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon peperoncino (hot red pepper flakes) chopped into little bits
2 tablespoons finely chopped toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons finely chopped golden raisins
2 tablespoons garlic-infused oil

Preparing the Garlic Oil and Crumbs:
Stir the garlic slices and salt into the olive oil. Allow to infuse for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour or more. Mix all the seasonings with the breadcrumbs, then stir in the 2 tablespoons of garlic oil. Rub the crumbs with your fingers so they’re evenly moistened.

Ingredients — The Tuna Rollatini
1˝ pounds fresh tuna loin in one piece
1/2 teaspoon salt
About 6 fresh thyme branches
About 2 cups fresh tomato-lemon marinade (See recipe)

Preparing the Tuna Rollatini:
Slice the tuna into 3-ounce scallops; flatten and spread them to 1/4–inch thickness with a meat mallet. Sprinkle each scallop of tuna with a couple of pinches of salt, then cover with a thin layer, about 1 ˝ teaspoons, of the seasoned bread crumbs. Roll up and secure the Rollatini with toothpicks, and place them all in a baking dish, close together in one layer. Drizzle over them 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil over them, scatter in a spoonful of the oily garlic slices, drop in the thyme branches, and turn the Rollatini to coat with oil on all sides. Let them marinate for at least an hour, preferably a couple of hours or overnight (refrigerated).

Heat a clean grill rack over medium heat, using gas or charcoal. Take the Rollatini out of the marinating dish and roll them in the breadcrumbs. Press a bit, so a light coating of crumbs adheres to the rolls on all sides. When the grill is ready, lay the Rollatini at right angles to the grill bars and let them sear without moving for 2 to 2 ˝ minutes, until they’ve been branded with nice gold marks on the bottom. The crumbs should be toasted but not burned. If the fish and crumbs are darkening much faster, lower the heat, raise the rack, or spread the coals out. Using tongs, rotate the Rollatini 180 degrees, so the first marks are on top; grill and mark the opposite side for about 2 minutes. Turn 90 degrees and grill about 1 ˝ minutes on a third side. Finally, rotate them all top to bottom again, so the remaining unmarked side of each roll is on the grill. They should need only a minute or so to mark. If you wish, drizzle garlic oil in tiny amounts on the Rollatini after each turn. After being grilled on all sides, about 6 to 7 minutes total, the Rollatini should be cooked through but moist in the middle (cut one open if you are concerned about doneness). Immediately remove them to a clean baking dish. Pull out the toothpicks. For the most flavor, spread the tomato-lemon marinade over the top of the Rollatini and marinate for 2 to 3 hours, until the hot rolls have cooled and been infused with the sauce. Serve at room temperature, one or two per person, with sauce on top.

Ingredients — Tomato-Lemon Marinade
2 medium summer tomatoes, seeded, chopped in 1/3-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 wedge (lengthwise quarter) of a large lemon
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2˝ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1˝ tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives or Italian parsley

Preparing the Fresh Tomato-Lemon Marinade:
Toss the chopped tomatoes in a bowl with the red onion and the salt. Trim the ends of the lemon wedge and pick out any seeds. Lay it on one of its flat sides and slice the wedge lengthwise thinly, then crosswise. Let the slivers of lemon fall apart, and slice or chop any long pieces into short bits. Scrape all the lemon into the bowl, and toss with the tomatoes. Then toss with the vinegar, oil, and chopped herbs. Spread the marinade over grilled Tuna Rollatini.

Buon Appetito!